Dalisa Pigram is a powerful solo performer with a great deal to communicate through words and images as well as movement. Brought up in Broome with ancestors from diverse cultures, she reflects on the town’s multicultural character and problems in a piece that is mostly sombre and often angry.
Gudirr Gudirr begins with onscreen quotes from a 1928 government report sickeningly lacking in humanity and understanding. The conclusion seems to be asking how much has changed.
On the happier side, we see a girl fishing with her father but catching more than they could carry back against the incoming tide – a lesson learned about greed, taking only what you need.
We hear about that in Kriol as well as observing it through movement whose style, naturalistic to stylised, illustrates Pigram’s background. It includes a conspicuous martial arts influence, feisty yet graceful: dramatic squats and deep lunges with a mix of strong and soft upper body, arm and hand gestures.
It’s a great combination, co-choreographed by Pigram and Koen Augustijnen, and as Gudirr Gudirr continues, the intensity of anxiety about the future of indigenous people, the younger generation in particular, is eloquently expressed in dance as well as some disturbing video.
For me, Pigram’s amplified listing of terrible white settler deeds was a lecture I would have preferred in a more subtle artistic form. But having stood beside an Australian family in a museum last year as they were shocked by a familiar (to me) photograph of Aboriginal people lined up in chains, I have to admit that not everyone knows about Australia’s unpleasant past. So maybe it has to be this direct. Either way, the impact of the production by the Broome group Marrugeku, with an impressive team of technical and creative contributors, is resounding.