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BangarraFeature

Bangarra: Dance stories of land and sea

Laura Peppas

He’s one of Australia’s most talented contemporary dancers now, but there was a time when Luke Currie-Richardson had to make the tough decision between playing basketball or dancing for a living.

“I got to a point in college where I was in schoolboy nationals for basketball and also being encouraged to take dancing more seriously,” the 28 year old says.

“After I finished year 12 I was at a crossroads, so I auditioned for [youth dance ensemble] Quantum Leap and even though it was a completely daunting experience, once I was on stage I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

Luckily Luke’s career has flourished since that moment, hitting a high when he joined nationally acclaimed dance troupe Bangarra in 2013.

In July the Sydney-based dance company will perform their brand new double bill, Lore, at the Canberra Theatre Centre.

Described as deeply moving, Lore brings together three powerful and passionate Bangarra artists to draw a realistic portrayal of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, exploring themes of identity, inequality, climate change and sustainability.

“It’s a really a taste of the Torres Strait World, and presents the audience with something they may not be familiar with,” says Luke.

Luke performing,

Luke performing, second from left. Photo: Supplied

Born in Cairns, Luke and his family moved to Canberra when he was in primary school.

His first taste of the world of dance was performing traditional Torres Strait island dancing at events around Canberra with his now-famous cousin, NBA star Patty Mills.

“Being on stage and having everybody watch was a great feeling, and I loved pushing my body to the limit,” Luke says.

“I was really encouraged by a teacher to continue to pursue it through college.”

Luke decided to study dance at the NAISDA college in NSW and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) at Queensland University of Technology.

Since joining Bangarra in 2013, he has performed in the company’s national, regional and international programs, including 2014’s successful 25th anniversary season.

“With Bangarra I always wanted to do something related to my culture, and paying forward to the next generation, because what the generation before me did 10 or even 20 years ago; they paved the way for me to be where I am today,” Luke says.

“It attracted me because even back when I was a basketball player I knew Bangarra was iconic and told indigenous stories, it’s a modern day corroboree. People may not have any knowledge of Aboriginal or Torres Strait culture, but we’re responsible for exposing them to it.”

A descendant of the Munaldjali Clan of South East QLD and the Meriam people of the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, Luke says his heritage is “extremely important” to him.

“When I step out onto that stage I make sure I always represent my family first and foremost,” he says.

“It’s always a nerve racking and amazing experience walking out there…but the day I’m no longer nervous is the day I’ve lost the love for dance.”

The essentials

What: Lore – Dance Stories of Land and Sea 

When: 9 – 11 July

Where: Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra City 

How much: From $45

Web: https://canberratheatrecentre.com.au/show/lore/ 

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author

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