Get ready to be swept off your feet as Glenelg Beach transforms into a stage of wonder and enchantment for the captivating dance production, Baleen Moondjan.
The production kickstarts the 2024 Adelaide Festival with Stephen Page, creative visionary and descendent of the Minjerribah/Stradbroke Island people, bringing his signature elements of dramatic storytelling, bold scenic design, striking costumes and haunting musical score to an epic scale in his first major work since leaving Bangarra Dance Theatre.
Page’s vision mixes modern dance with the performers’ traditional language and narrative storytelling with songs in English and Jandai as he conjures up the elements of spectacular theatre in the dynamic outdoor setting of Glenelg’s beautiful beach.
We sat down with Director and co-writer, Stephen Page, and Producer, Jo Dyer to learn more.
What can audiences expect from Baleen Moondjan ?
Stephen Page: Baleen Moondjan is a contemporary ceremony that celebrates First Nations relationships with Baleen whales and their haunting songs of endurance and belonging. It tells the story of a proud Elder, a curious granddaughter and the endless, powerful circle of life as the audience becomes witness to the special day a baleen whale comes to shore to catch Granny Gindara’s spirit and carry it out to sea. It is a farewell, a celebration, a poignant start to a final journey.
Audiences can expect a moving and dynamic evening of story-telling, dance and song – striking choreography, haunting music and a powerful narrative set against a stunning visual backdrop of theatrical and natural worlds. It will be a stimulating, joyful and poignant evening for the whole family.
Are there connections between Glenelg and the stories?
Stephen Page: The production explores the universal connection between Indigenous peoples and the majestic whales that inhabit our seas. While there isn’t a specific connection between the story of Baleen and Pathawilyangga (Glenelg), the beach represents the elemental power of the ocean – its splendour and the myriad lives it supports.
What is the central storyline of Baleen Moondjan?
Stephen Page: It is a celebration of humanity’s eternal life cycle, as well as the deep spiritual connection between Indigenous peoples and their totems. It will be a First Nations ceremony honouring of a Southern Humpback Whale. Against these epic preoccupations is an intimate story of family: the connection between a grandmother and her granddaughter, the cherishing of community and how the inevitability of loss is leavened by the memory of love.
Could you share some insights into the cultural significance and inspiration behind choosing Glenelg beach as the location for this production?
Stephen Page: The themes of the production draw on the beauty and power of the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it. South Australia boasts some of the country’s most stunning beaches, including the sandy shores at Pathawilyangga, so we knew we wanted to present our show at one of the best.
The combination of the natural beauty and its vibrant evening culture made Glenelg a natural fit – both the experience of watching the show amongst the elements and, more practically, the excellent array of dining options available on Jetty Road to visit before and afterwards. This will ensure families can enjoy a night that delivers on all levels.
Glenelg beach is quite different from the usual city venues. what motivated the decision to stage the opening of the 2024 Adelaide festival here?
Jo Dyer: There’s something very special about watching a show with the sun setting behind you – it creates a profoundly different experience from watching it in a theatre. Given the City of Holdfast Bay’s impressive record of delivering great events to its community and Glenelg’s relative accessibility to a large section of the population, it was our first and last choice as the location for Baleen Moondjan.