'Bennelong is a dance theatre production that explores the story of Woollarawarre Bennelong (Bennilong, Baneelon) (c1764-1813), a Wangul man of the Eora nation who lived in the Port Jackson area at the time of the British first settlement. Today, Bennelong is one of the most celebrated and mythologised Aboriginal individuals from the days of early settlement. His wide notoriety is remarkable - not only for the stories about his interactions and relationships with the British, but for the amount of primary source material that refers to him in notebooks and diaries of several first fleet officers, as well as Governor Arthur Phillip himself.
'Bennelong’s story has been told and re-told many times over by historians, novelists and screenwriters, and his image has been depicted by artists from early times to the present in paintings, drawings and other media. Numerous geographical locations around Australia are named in his honour. Perhaps the most well-known ‘place’ name is Bennelong Point, where the iconic Sydney Opera House stands.
'Bangarra Dance Theatre’s unique telling of Bennelong’s story is imagined through the perspective of Bennelong himself as well as other Aboriginal people of the time. The work explores his personal character, his conflicts, his relationships, his community, and his standing within that community.
'Bangarra’s production of Bennelong is not a historical recount, nor is it a literal translation of events. The work looks between the lines and layers of the narrative that has gathered around this one man, and beyond the common perceptions that have prevailed in regard to Bennelong the man and his unique place in our post-colonial history.
'We are mindful that we look back to Bennelong’s time through the filter of our contemporary consciousness - what we know now is always superimposed over what we read about First Contact times and how we imagine the reality of those times.
'We hope to ignite audiences’ imaginations and focus their thoughts on the enormous impact brought to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through European settlement.'
'Our land people stories is a new contemporary dance work showcasing the endless choreographic talents of the company and the infinite stories of Australia’s cultural heritage.' (Source: Bangarra Dance Theatre website)