Bangarra Dance Theatre has announced two young dancers joining the company for 2018 under the Russell Page Graduate Program, thanks to the generosity of a group of donors and a matched funding grant from the Sherry-Hogan Foundation.
Lillian Banks, a Yawuru woman from Broome, Western Australia and Brad Smith, a Gumbaynggirr man from Coffs Harbour, New South Wales have joined the company for 12 months of professional experience and training through the Russell Page Graduate Program.
The pair will make their debut in February as part of Bangarra’s seven-city regional tour of the 2016 work OUR land people stories, before travelling to South Australia to perform in the highlyacclaimed Bennelong at Adelaide Festival. In June, they will take to the stage at the Sydney Opera House for Stephen Page’s world premiere of Dark Emu and embark on their first national tour.
Initiated in 2014, the Russell Page Graduate Program is named after the late Russell Page, a founding member of Bangarra and one of its most revered dancers, who passed away in 2002. Bangarra Dance Theatre, Artistic Director, Stephen Page says the program is central to Bangarra’s commitment to building a strong platform for the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to grow and thrive.
“We are delighted to welcome Lillian and Brad into the Bangarra clan.It will be an intense journey as they immerse themselves in our world of training and performance under the guidance of our dancers, choreographers, and creatives. “This program is a continuation of the desire I shared with my brothers – Russell and David – to support new talent to flourish under the nurturing mentorship of artists excelling in their craft.”
Both Lillian and Brad are graduates of Australia’s elite Indigenous training college, NAISDA Dance College, where they studied together for four years. Bangarra Dance Theatre, Executive Director, Philippe Magid says the Russell Page Graduate Program directly allows the company to develop future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders. “Lillian and Brad now belong to a growing number of professionally trained Bangarra artists with a proud Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background, who will benefit from invaluable support and training through the Russell Page Graduate Program.
“This powerful program wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our valued donors – a number of whom have been on this journey with us since the beginning of the program in 2014 – and we thank them for sharing our vision.”