Burrbgaja Yalirra @ PICA
Marrageku, featuring Edwin Lee Mulligan, Eric Avery and Miranda Wheen
Friday, June 8 2018


Burrbgaja Yalirra means “dancing forwards” in Yawuru, and comprises three short works in a sensory experience that incorporates contemporary and traditional dance, sound, storytelling and imagery. Exploring the reciprocity of human experience and their environment within our cultural milieu, Marrageku’s collaborative approach to the company is exemplified in this beautiful, narrative driven production.

Opening with a moving piece by Walmajarri/Nyikina painter and poet, Edwin Lee Mulligan, Ngarlimbah (you are as much a part of me as I am of you) is part spoken word, part dance and some magnificent video imagery melded into a masterful storytelling presentation about the interwoven nature of body, spirit and environment which contribute to the rich tapestry of self. It is pure delight.

The second in the trilogy involves a contemporary dance named Miranda, for dancer Miranda Wheen’s namesake from Picnic at Hanging Rock. Incorporating elements of Joan Lindsay’s iconic piece of Australian history in an emotive and sometimes confrontational exploration of what it means to be a white Australian, Wheen endeavours to navigate cultural waters that can appear muddy and difficult, through the power of interpretive dance. Driven by fear and apprehension, Miranda’s first half begins to feel a lot like a celebration of white guilt before turning on its head to suddenly challenging self-examination and evocative introspection.

The incredibly talented Eric Avery dramatically concludes the show with the phenomenal Dancing with Strangers, amalgamating violin and contemporary dance with the traditional in his exploration of the early colonial years and the missed opportunities to share culture and stories of country. It is an eloquent and fervent display of wonder and sorrow, and Avery is surely one to watch on Australian stages.

Each piece is starkly different in form, message and intent, but throughout it remains true that we are all simply trying to make sense of our identity as Australians and human beings. The work that Marrageku have undertaken is vital and inspiring, and we should all anticipate some truly game changing art in future from the company.


Photos by Jon Green