The Crossing: Mildura and Wentworth Arts Festival 2007

Jill Orr

17 - 21 Apr 2007

The Crossing was a collaborative performance work that drew inspiration from local Indigenous and other community stories about the Murray River, Lock Island, the ecology and the cross- cultural relationship to this place. It was a poetically inspired ritual performance expressed through dance and evocative performance cameos of stories gathered, translated and performed by the local Koorie dancers, musicians and Butoh dancers and physical theatre performers. This work is an expression of the spirit of place that symbolically acknowledged overlapping histories.

The work is inspired by local stories about cross cultural relationsto place and incorporates early colonial institutional characters who had a direct connection with the indigenous population such as the missionaries and the bush nurses. At times this was a fraught relation.

The Crossing moves across time to include the Lost Malaysian who is neither coloniser nor colonised. His dissociation is his lack of connection to this place. There is also a contemporary white tree spirit who is an amalgam of my own childhood Celtic fairies and Australian bush spirits translated through the dancer, Emma Strapp in response to the island and the brief. The grounding reality is through the Koorie children dancing their ancient River Dance. The audience were guided across the island from performance cameo to cameo. The video is a translation of the live work and is ideally re-presented as a multi screen installation where each character relates across the gallery space. This is a very condensed version.

The Crossing was created for the 2007 Mildura and Wentworth Arts Festival the photographic and video works were presented in the Mildura Arts Centre in 2008.

Collaborators were:

Victorian p12 College of Koorie Education and the dancers with direction and performance by Peter Peterson: Latche Latche dance man.

NSW Tafe, Riverina Institute Coomealla Campus, Barkindji Visual Arts Students

Steve Bell: Music

BJ Hunt: didgeridoo

Performances by:

Gretel Taylor, Craig Peade, Carolyn Connors, Tony Yap, Emma Strapps & Jill Orr

Pete Brownstein: video

Naomi Herzog & Malcolm Cross, stills

The project thanks Raeleen Berriman Barkindji Elder, Education Officer, Catherine Benchmo, Jo Hill, Barbara McIntyre and Barkindji students for art works from the NSW TAFE, Riverina Institute, Coomealla Campus.

Alisa & Marcelle Benchmo, performance,  Kevin Drummond smoke and flares, Christine Kelly Barkindji Elder, smoke ceremony. Barbara Wilson Principal, Peter Peterson and student dancers and staff from the Victorian P12 College for Koorie Education.  Donnatta Carrazza & Stefano de Pieri, catering, Helen Healy, Festival Director, Gary Midgley & Yigal Benchmo  boatmen,  Ross Lake, historical research,

Vikki Moore, accommodation.

Funded by:

Arts Victoria, Regional Arts Victoria, Vic Health, Mildura Wentworth Festival for the Arts and the Mildura Arts Centre

The video can be seen  from: