NT’s Gary Lang awarded Residency Program at The Australian Ballet

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One of the Territory’s most dynamic and loved dance choreographers has been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as one of two recipients of The Australian Ballet’s inaugural Residency Program.

Senior Larrakia man and Artistic Director of the NT Dance Company, Gary Lang, 61, is renowned for embracing both classical ballet and traditional Aboriginal dance, and has been dancing from the age of 21.

Gary’s performances have brought NT Indigenous culture to life in art form for many years, including a recent performance at the Darwin Festival, WAŊA, performed alongside the Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s string quartet.

The 2023 residency will provide Gary with access to studio space and facilities at the Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre in Melbourne and funding of $18,000 to support the residency.

“I feel really honoured going to an establishment like The Australian Ballet,” Gary said. “It is like one culture going into another and I see this opportunity as one that enables a merging of two ancient Australian practices – First Nations culture and classical ballet.”

Gary will have the opportunity to take with him artists of his choice to provide them with an experience like nothing before. The focus of his works will be to create The Forgotten One, an adaptation of ballet classic Giselle’s second act into an Indigenous Australian context.

“I will bring dancers together from Darwin and interstate to create the program and I will work with my family in Yirrkala to tell the story of the forgotten one’s spirit and incorporate manikay (song), bungul (dance) and for the first time I hope to include an opera component.”

Gary’s strength in teaching is through storytelling, and creating a connection with his dancers.

“I have to create a relationship with my dancers to get the best out of them,” Gary said. “If I can’t get the best out of them, I’m not giving them the best of me. I hope to ignite something in someone’s soul – both in my dancers and in the audience.”

The Australian Ballet’s Residency Program provides access to studio space for established artists, allowing them to further develop and enrich their practice. Former Artistic Director of Danceworks, Sandra Parker, is the other artist to be offered residency in the inaugural program.

The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David Hallberg said that great art was made through collaboration, and he was thrilled that the Residency Program provided opportunities for artists like Gary to experiment and create.

“NT Dance is such an important company in our artistic community, I can’t wait for Gary and his team to bring their energy to our studios next year,” Mr Hallberg said.

“Gary has an extraordinary conceptual vision for the telling of The Forgotten One and I am so excited that this Residency Program will assist in the creation of this full-scale work for presentation in the Northern Territory in 2024.”

The Gary Lang NT Dance Company is a leading NT arts organisation and receives $69,500 per annum under a five-year funding agreement for 2020-2024 through Territory Families, Housing and Communities (Arts NT).

Director of Arts NT Georgia Thomas said the residency was an extraordinary opportunity and a great recognition of Gary’s talent.

“Gary has made invaluable contributions to the dance industry over the past 20 years and he has shaped contemporary dance, especially in the NT, through his passion, dedication and leadership,” Ms Thomas said.

Gary will join the Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre for four weeks in April or May next year.

Gary Land

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