Created over three years of travel to sacred lands in desert Australia and tropical India, dance production Kwongkan is a profound and dazzling mix of beauty and terror, hope and fear
Kwongkan (sand)—a dance collaboration between indigenous Australian performers from Perth’s Ochre Contemporary Dance Company and India’s Daksha Sheth Dance Company—journeys from ancient cultures, through the present and into a future where the next generation struggles to save the planet and themselves. An apocalyptic foreboding of the effects of climate change, Kwongkan is visually and sonically startling with passionately powerful physical performance at its core.
The performers combine traditional and contemporary dance theatre with live music, son et lumière, and aerial acrobatics. Created over three years of travel to sacred lands in desert Australia and tropical India, this world premiere is a profound and dazzling mix of beauty and terror, hope and fear.
Kwongkan means “sand” in Nyoongar language and this indestructible element is used in dance ceremonies in both Indian and Indigenous Australian cultures. The title is also a reference to what most of us are doing about addressing the tsunami of climate catastrophes engulfing our planet—putting our heads in the sand.
Director Mark Howett said, “As we began our creative development the effects on both our cultures from climate change, like the floods in Kerala in India and Australian droughts, permeated the room, leading us to believe as one that we needed to shout against the oncoming calamities for sake of our children and our children’s children. People connected to sacred lands are at the forefront of the impact of climate change.”
Ochre’s principal Nyoongar dancer Ian Wilkes, one of the co-creators said, “We nurtured this land for over 50,000 years, and now, after only 200, it faces ruin.”
Ochre Contemporary Dance Company has triumphed over the last three years, and is now regarded as one of Australia’s leading physical theatre companies with five-star reviews for Kaya (2016), Good Little Soldier (2017) and 3.3 (2018). Having made work about cultural interaction, post-traumatic stress and indigenous incarceration the company is now embracing the major concern of our times.
Daksha Sheth Dance Company is one of India’s leading dance companies, having toured internationally for 25 years. They performed Shiva Shakti at Perth Festival 2013. Daksha’s children, renowned dancer and Bollywood actress Isha Sharvani and musician, composer Tao Issaro, are key creators and performers in Kwongkan. Their father, and Daksha’s husband, Dev Issaro, has designed the production.
Howett, who lit the Helpmann-nominated 2017/2019 Perth Festival seasons of Boorna Waanginy (Trees Speak), and the ensemble will transform the gardens of the Fremantle Arts Centre into epic scenes of ceremony, protest, danger and destruction.
Audiences are invited to arrive early to experience the magic of pre-performance rituals, warm-ups, set preparation, costuming and body painting, and perhaps to play a role in the unfolding narrative. Expect to have your senses enraptured and your conscience piqued as this work shouts to acknowledge that we are all implicit in creating the catastrophic effects of climate change and responsible for reversing it.
Where & when
- Venue: Fremantle Arts Centre
- Dates: Sat 16 February-Wed 20 February
- Time: 7.30pm, Pre-show experience from 5pm; Duration: 60 mins
- Post Show Conversation: Sun 17 Feb
- Tickets: $45, $42 (concession), $25 (full-time student). Transaction fees may apply, available at www.perthfestival.com.au