The actor and composer, best known for his work with Bangarra Dance Theatre, has died aged 55.
Composer and actor David Page, one of Australia’s most decorated and acclaimed indigenous artists, brother and closest collaborator of Bangarra Dance Theatre artistic director Stephen Page, has died, aged 55. The circumstances of his death are not yet known. His death was confirmed by Bangarra in a statement, saying, “The Bangarra clan is unbelievably saddened that our brother David Page is no longer with us.”
Page, a descendant of the Nunkul people of the Munaldajali clan of the Yugambeh tribe, South East Queensland, was best known for his collaborations with choreographers, particularly his compositions for major presentations by Bangarra Dance Theatre, scoring 27 out the company’s 35 productions since the early 1990s. Having studied voice, composition and song at Adelaide University’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies in the 1980s, Page’s music featured a distinctive fusion of traditional indigenous influences combined with contemporary styles, including jazz, pop and electronica.
Growing up in a creative household, with two artistically gifted brothers – dancers Stephen and Russell – Page’s success in music and song writing began in his early years. As a child he performed under the name “Little Davy Page” on several TV broadcasts, including appearances on Countdown and The Paul Hogan Show, and in his teens he released two singles with Atlantic Records.
Joining the company in 1990 as its resident composer, David, alongside his brothers Stephen and Russell, raised Bangarra Dance Theatre to a national stature as one of the country’s most important dance troupes. However, in 2002 the Page family were struck by tragedy when David’s brother Russell, the lead dancer of the company, committed suicide, aged 34. The following year Russell was awarded the Helpmann Award for Best Male Dancer posthumously, in recognition of his contribution to Australian dance.
In 2011 David Page was appointed Artist-in-Residence with Bangarra, but during his career he has also created scores for the Australian Ballet, including the music for Stephen Page’s Warumuk as part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2012, and Queensland Theatre Company’s 2014 production of Black Diggers. He appeared on stage with QTC, performing in the company’s 2013 production of Mother Courage and her Children.
In 2000, Page was part of the creative team for the Sydney Olympic Games opening ceremony, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, and in 2002, the Sydney Dreaming Festival. In addition to his music for live performance, he also boasts a significant catalogue of television and film credits, which include the music for Heartland, Pride and Poison, for the ABC, as well as the theme music for Songlines, Living Black and Pioneers of Love for SBS.
Page has been the recipient of several major awards including four of his eight nominations at the Deadly’s Sound Awards (since 1995), the inaugural Sidney Myer Foundation Indigenous Artist Award in 2000, the 2006 Green Room Award for Best New Australian Play in recognition of his performance in Page 8, and a Helpmann Award for Best Original Score for Bangarra’s 2009 production, Mathinna.
Bangarra Dance Theatre have requested that no images of David be included for reasons of cultural sensitivity.