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Bangarra Dance Theatre

Cheat Sheet: Horizon

Horizon is a double bill (theatrical term for a performance with two shows in one), opening with Kulka by Sani Townson, followed by the primary piece, The Light Inside, by Deborah Brown and Moss Te Ururangi Patterson.

Republished from Bangarra Dance Theatre

The People | He Tangata


Kulka tells the story of the Saybaylayg (people of Saibai Island) of Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait). Some of the clans there are Saybay Koedal (Saibai crocodile), Samu (Cassowary), Dhoeybaw (Yam vine), Thabu (Snake), Suy Baydam (Shark), Umay (Dog) and Ait Kodeal (Crocodile).

The Light Inside

Salt Water (by Deborah Brown)

The people of the Torres Strait embody a vibrant culture. As natural navigators, custodians of their land and soulful diplomats, they wonderfully maintain and nurture their culture. Their deep respect and connection to the sea and salt water is profoundly evident in their way of life. 

Fresh Water (by Moss Te Ururangi Patterson)

Moss Patterson, born near Lake Taupō, is a proud mokopuna (grandson) of the Ngāti Tūwharetoa tribe on the central north island of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Raised by his grandmother and mother, who gifted him the stories, dances, prayers and rituals of his whānau (family), this work honours the matriarchal line within the Ngāti Tūwharetoa tribe. They are proud Indigenous women, holding the community together.

The Place | Turangawaewae

Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait Islands)

Zenadth Kes is an archipelago between the land at the very top of the Australian continent and the southernmost part of Papua New Guinea. There are 247 islands in the Torres Strait, though only about 18 of them are inhabited.

Saibai Island is the most northern island only 4km from mainland Papua New Guinea.

The Light Inside, Salt Water, is deeply inspired by two islands in the Torres Strait: Badu, the western island, and Mer, the farthest eastern island, marking the beginning of the Great Barrier Reef. Zenadth Kes is a place where the three tiers of sea, land, and sky converge, each communicating with the other. 

Lake Taupō, Aotearoa (New Zealand)

The story of The Light Inside, Fresh Water, is set in a richly cultural and geographically significant area in Aotearoa, focusing on Lake Taupō and its surrounding landmarks. Lake Taupō, often referred to as 'the inland sea,' is the largest lake in Aotearoa, situated on a volcanic plateau in the central north island. The area encompasses Tongariro, a prominent mountain and a river that flows past the village of Tokaanu, home to the Ngāti Kurauia subtribe.

The Story


Sani Townson pays homage to his grandfather, Sania Guy Townson. As appreciation grows for customs and cultures, it is critical that we preserve the languages, songs and dances that hold cultural knowledge. Passing these treasures to future generations is fundamental in our fight for visibility. 

The Light Inside

Salt Water is an homage to Deborah Brown's mother and the connection to the sea, sky and land of her people from Zenadth Kes. Song and dance was the first language shared, developing a strong sense of identity despite living on the mainland.

Fresh Water is about remembering to never let the light go out. The light being the stories, the memories, the experiences, the hopes, the dreams of our Elders, our grandmothers, our mothers and Indigenous children. This work calls on us to hold on however we can, to the grace, the wisdom, the beauty, the stillness, the power, the strength, the mana (prestige) of the matriarchy as it informs our own identities.

Horizon is now playing on the Drama Theatre stage until 13 July, 2024.