Bangarra Dance Company – WARU

Bangarra Dance Theatre is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation and one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, widely acclaimed nationally and around the world for their powerful dancing, distinctive theatrical voice and utterly unique soundscapes, music and design.

Waru – journey of the small turtle, Bangarra’s first ever dedicated work for children, was due to be performed in 2021 at their newly renovated home in Walsh Bay. Due to Covid-19 the season has been postponed to September 2022.

A journey of survival and discovery with the heroine Migi the turtle, the contemporary saltwater Lagaw Kazil (Island Children) story is inspired by the totemic system of the green turtle, in an interactive and immersive introduction to Torres Strait Islander culture and dance for three to seven year-olds. Waru is aiming to be a first step in developing an awareness and understanding of other cultures, languages and traditions as well as the threat to our natural environment. 

Created by Bangarra’s Artistic Director and multi award-winning choreographer Stephen Page, together with Hunter Page-Lochard (ABC TV’s Playschool, Spear, ABC TV’s Cleverman), and Bangarra alumni Dancers and Choreographers Sani Townson and Elma Kris, Waru provides teachers, parents and care-givers with a unique opportunity to open up conversations about climate change, caring for the environment and the traditional cultural values of respect and reciprocity. Waru is inspired in part by the highly successful Turtle (Corroboree) 2001, choreographed by Stephen Page, Peggy Misi and Elma Kris.

Waru writer Hunter Page-Lochard said: “I’m thrilled to be able to work with my father on a children’s show, especially now that I have a two year old daughter. Being a part of Playschool has given me an even greater appreciation of the importance of sharing culture with young people in Australia today, and I’m excited to be able to share the culture and stories of fellow creatives Sani and Elma with the youth community”.

The Girgensohn Foundation supported the development and production of Waru in 2021/22. After a successful sell-out season at their Walsh Bay Studios Bangarra will tour the play nationally in 2023 (Melbourne, Wyong, Geelong, Goulbourn, Nowra, Cairns, Darwin, Thursday Island). It will return to Sydney for another season at Walsh Bay in September/October and in 2024. We are supporting the tour.

Waru was voted Best Production for Children at the 2023 Sydney Theatre Awards.