Bangarra Dance Theatre will undertake the most ambitious tour in the company's history to celebrate their milestone 30th anniversary.
'Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand' brings to the stage a three-part programme performed by top-tier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people from across Australia, including Beau Dean Riley Smith who marks his seventh year with Bangarra in 2019.
“I still pinch myself just being able to perform with this company and with the people in the company,” Beau says.
“It's pretty amazing, and then to be a part of this celebration that is Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrating its 30th birthday this year, I feel there's a sense of pride dancing with this company.”
The '30 years of sixty five thousand' programme combines a re-staging of Frances Rings’ monumental 'Unaipon' (Clan, 2004), with 'Stamping Ground' by acclaimed Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, and a powerful collection of dance stories – 'to make fire' – from the company’s 30-year history curated by Bangarra Artistic Director Stephen Page and Head of Design, Jacob Nash.
“When you look back to who's actually put their footprint on this company, it's quite an amazing and remarkable list of people,” Beau says.
“There's an incredible list of people that have shared their stories throughout the company's history, so the company is constantly evolving and shapeshifting depending on who is in the company at that time. It's quite an amazing feeling to be a part of that.”
Beau says it's the chance to explore through dance the diversity of Indigenous Australian culture and storytelling that excites him most about being part of Bangarra Dance Theatre.
“It's the reason why I wake up, because I get to tell stories, and the richness of those stories – whether it's from my own backyard or somebody else's from around the country... the Australian culture is very rich.”
A man of the Wiradjuri nation in Central NSW (the largest First Nation in NSW), Beau says his dancing is intrinsically imbued with the traditions of his people.
“For instance my totem is the wamboy – the great kangaroo – and I get told that I dance like a kangaroo, without even trying,” he reveals.
“I can puff my chest out, and my hands naturally rise like a kangaroo; I naturally do it without thinking about it and sometimes it can get me in trouble when I'm being asked to do the choreography,” he laughs.
“Without thinking about it my arms just transform. I get told I dance like my totem by other dancers in the company.”
Bangarra's performance of 'Stamping Ground' will be the first time the ballet has been performed in Australia since the Nederlands Dans Theater production in 1986.
Last year, Beau was the recipient of two awards: the Helpmann Award for Best Male Dancer and an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance.
“That's another thing I still pinch myself about… it's quite humbling to be recognised in that way by my peers,” Beau says.
As Bangarra celebrates 30 years and Beau marks his seventh with the company, he strives to carry on the strong tradition the dance theatre has built in its time.
“I see the incredible hard work that the dancers before me put in and it's pretty amazing to see a company on that platform, telling these stories, travelling the country and travelling the world – it's pretty amazing.”
'Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand' Tour Dates
31 July-3 August – State Theatre Centre Of WA
17 August – Darwin Entertainment Centre
23-31 August – Queensland Performing Arts Centre
5-14 September – Arts Centre Melbourne
19-21 September – Adelaide Festival Centre
3-5 October – Theatre Royal (Hobart)