Guesting in Bangarra's all Indigenous dance ensemble

Dancer Thomas Greenfield joins an all-Indigenous ensemble for the Bangarra Dance Theatre production of Patyegarang.
Guesting in Bangarra's all Indigenous dance ensemble

Guest dancer Thomas Greenfield joins Bangarra Dance Theatre for Patyegarang. Image courtesy Bangarra Dance Theatre. 

Dancer Thomas Greenfield has been cast as the only non-Indigenous dancer in the forthcoming Bangarra Dance Theatre production, Patyegarang.

‘I’ve always had huge respect and draw to what the company produces. Now to be actually guest star with them ... It’s such an honour to be a part of this company that tells such unique and intimate stories through their dance,’ he said.


Marking Bangarra's 25th anniversary, the national tour of Patyegarang commences 12 June at Sydney Opera House; the previously untold story of an inspiring cultural exchange between colonial explorer William Dawes and young Indigenous woman Patyegarang.

Dancing in the production was a challenge, Greenfield said. ‘Every role that you take on as a performer is a challenge. But it’s the development that helps you overcome those challenges, whether it is physical or mental. It’s been very challenging in the sense of really creating a strong character. In the end we’re doing what we love and so the challenges are overcome by just the passion of being involved.'

Choreographed by the company's Artistic Director, Stephen Page, Greenfield said Patyegarang blended modern and traditional dance styles. ‘Stephen is great at binding his traditional and contemporary storytelling. I’ve got a pretty unique role in this story where I’m isolated from the main ensemble and so any sort of traditional element is something that I have not been involved with.

‘If I do journey through a traditional scene in the piece, I maintain my outside element to that section. It’s just been another great part of Bangarra to watch them through their processes of creation,’ he said.

Greenfield hopes that audiences can appreciate the cultural and historical contexts that the story of Patyegarang is grounded in. ‘From there, how they take elements in is sort of up to the audience in terms of what they want to focus on.

‘Stephen Page said about a week ago that this is a story about the reclaiming of language, and the pride that comes with reclaiming something that was thought to be lost. So I guess what is really important for audiences to take in is the positivity of this story, and the pride that this story is filled with.

‘It’s the 25th anniversary of Bangarra and I think they wanted to tell a legitimate story of their heritage and the land that they call home now. I think that it’s a very poignant piece, which acknowledges all the elements of where the company has come from and its place in Sydney.’

The national tour of Patyegarang by Bangarra Dance Theatre opens at Sydney Opera House from 12 June, followed by seasons at Canberra Theatre Centre, the State Theatre Centre WA in Perth, QPAC Brisbane, and Arts Centre Melbourne.

For tickets and more information visit the Bangarra Theatre Company website.


Troy Nankervis

Tuesday 10 June, 2014

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis