Spirit Review @ Adelaide Fringe 2020

  • Written by  Jade Manson
  • Wednesday, 04 March 2020 09:23
Published in Arts News  
|   Tagged under   
'Spirit' 'Spirit' Image © Tony Virgo

'Spirit' is an ingenious weaving together of Aboriginal culture and storytelling with modern technology, to create a magical and moving dance performance.


The traditional style of dance performed with expertise and emotion conveys important aspects of Aboriginal history and culture. As explained in the introduction by Karl Telfer, the Yellaka group has come a long way since their beginnings in 2015, they have grown and are creating more impressive productions.

The different dances flow together cohesively, and each section of the performance is meaningful and evocative. The first tells the story of the Stolen Generations and then it moves on to dances that express more of Aboriginal culture and tell the story of reclaiming culture.

The dances that follow include a cleansing fire dance, men’s and women’s dances, dances on the themes of traditional hunting and fishing, and dances that represent animals and the legend of the emu creator spirit in the stars. These parts of the performance are ethereal and powerful, capturing the richness of Aboriginal culture. The dances themselves as well as the lighting, screen and smoke effects are used to create a beautiful visual landscape, which pairs well with each performance.

The respect and worship of the earth in Aboriginal culture is seen clearly in this show, and it reminds the audience of the magic, healing power and mysteries of nature, and how we need to respect the land. The stage design makes you feel like you are out in the bush among the trees and under a night sky. There is a celestial and enchanting feel to the whole performance, which expresses Aboriginal legends, traditions and history. Each dance is well-crafted and detailed, with fine control over movement. Even the tiniest movements evoke an emotion or symbolised something from nature.

'Spirit' is an inspiring performance, which celebrates the strength of both the younger generations of Aboriginal people and those who survived the Stolen Generations, reconnected with their people and found ways to pass on culture. The stories spoken by elders from the Stolen Generation about where they came from are heart-rending. The show touches on the trauma of the Stolen Generations, but manages to also show the beauty of healing.

There are also many humourous moments from Karl Telfer in introducing and speaking about the dances afterward, and it ends with him having to tell the audience it’s not a comedy show. Overall it's a well-balanced, enchanting performance which suggests there are exciting things to come from the Yellaka group.

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