Stephen Page was studying at NAISDA Dance College in the 1980s when he heard about Stamping Ground, a 1983 dance piece created by celebrated Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián. Page was fascinated by the backstory to the piece, which had its roots in Aboriginal dance, and was aware that nothing like that had ever happened before.

Tyrel Dulvarie and Rika Hamaguchi. Photo © Daniel Boud

“Jiří was almost doing a Bangarra before Bangarra even existed,” says Page, Bangarra’s Artistic Director since 1991. Thirty-six years later, he has programmed Stamping Ground as part of Bangarra: 30 Years of Sixty Five Thousand, the triple bill celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary. It will be the first time that Bangarra has staged a production by an international choreographer, and the first piece that the company will perform which was not specially commissioned.

It all goes back to 1972, when Kylián saw two Aboriginal men performing together in a dance documentary and was fascinated by their style of movement. Keen to make a television program about Aboriginal dance, he arranged to come to Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1980, where he watched a three-day corroboree ceremony...