Blak fuses tradition with modern in dynamic production

Bangarra dancers Daniel Riley-McKinley and Waangenga Blanco will perform in Blak at QPAC.
Bangarra dancers Daniel Riley-McKinley and Waangenga Blanco will perform in Blak at QPAC. Contributed

BANGARRA Dance Company's latest contemporary marvel Blak makes its way to Brisbane this month.

The indigenous performance group's award-winning artistic director Stephen Page and choreographer Daniel Riley McKinley collaborated on the physically dynamic production, which explores the fusion of traditions with modern life.

The show is split into three sections with the male and female dancers featured separately in the first two acts.

"The show starts off with the men dancing, which is all inspired by initiation and the rites of passage that men go through as they transition from boyhood into manhood," dancer Nicola Sabatino explained.

"Then it goes into the women's section where we explore different things women are faced with in this urban world.

"It finishes off with the things we face together as men and women in our communities. A lot of indigenous people are living in urban environments now and does that diminish traditional ideas?"

Blak's choreography is driven by a thumping score by regular Bangarra composer David Page and electro master Paul Mac.

"If you can imagine traditional Bangarra music with a DJ," Sabatino said.

"It's certainly got a tech, upbeat feeling to it.

"For me I feel like Paul Mac's influence on the music has made it almost trance like."

Sabatino, from Weipa in Far North Queensland, made her debut with the company at the beginning of the year during its international tour to Vietnam.

"I was inspired by Bangarra when I was younger, so to join the company later on after study was a big achievement for me," she said.

"It was so exciting, but very scary too to make a debut with a company in a different country. It was a bit of a culture shock."

Blak debuted to critical acclaim in Melbourne and has just finished an extended run of shows at the Sydney Opera House.

Bangarra's Terrain production is also up for three gongs at the Helpmann Awards later this month.

Bangarra's Blak plays QPAC's Playhouse from July 18-27. Tickets start from $34.50 plus booking fee.

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