WARU Review

Reviewed by Zuzi Fort

Ignite your child’s imagination and passion and experience the beauty and simplicity of WARU – JOURNEY OF THE SMALL TURTLE.

Imagine a time before civilization, a time that was simpler and more organic; a time when we were in touch with Mother Earth. That is what you will experience if you attend Bangarra Dance Theatre’s latest production of WARU. Inspired by the green turtle’s importance in the Torres Strait Islander totemic system, this is Bangarra’s first work for children, though everyone can enjoy this wonderful show.

The performance brings back memories of sitting by my grandmother’s feet, sipping hot chocolate, and munching on a cookie and listening to stories of times gone by. Bangarra has done an amazing job bringing this tale to life. With a simple and beautiful set design, including projections, lights, sounds as well as fun costumes the show tells a story of Migi, the little green turtle who must overcome numerous obstacles as she journeys through life. In a blink of an eye, the audiences are transported to a beach on one of the Torres Strait Islands where they experience first-hand some of the cultural practices and rich history of the Indigenous people. In the process they learn all about the cycle of life as well as our obligations as keepers of this planet. The show is a gentle reminder of our responsibilities as custodians of this beautiful land.

Created by Stephen Page, along with Hunter Page-Lochard and Bangarra dancers and choreographers Sani Townson and Elma Kris, Waru offers a unique chance learn about climate change, looking after the environment and the traditional cultural values of respect and reciprocity.

The entire experience is truly magical and offers hands on creative experience for the children. Starting with arts and craft activities before the show when those young, and young at heart, create their very own turtle and postcards. This experience continues during the show when the audiences interact with the performers and learn some of the dance the moves, which they then perform to original music written by David Page and Steve Francis.

This is a beautifully narrated and performed story that teaches young audiences all about life and our journey on this planet. It is a show filled with promise and hope as we follow the tiny turtle’s first steps, her journey into the sea, overcoming many an adversity along the way and returning home, to the place she was born to give birth to a new life. Watching the children absorbed by the narrative, engaged, and awed by the fact that unlike the movies, the performers were actually there was an enchanting experience.

As a parent concerned with the bombardment of, at times, meaningless media, this was truly magical. Time itself seemed to have slowed down. Holding my daughter’s hand, surrounded by the mystical sounds of the ocean, the echoey songs and beautiful projections I have experienced the joy of childhood again.

When the lights came on and the performers took their bows, I saw the glowing faces of children and adults alike and I was filled with hope for the next generation. Each child had been empowered with the knowledge that they can make a positive difference in the world.

Running during the duration of the school holidays, this is one event not to be missed. I shall leave you with my daughter’s much more succinct review. “It was brilliantly awesome.”

Season 24 September - 9 October 2022 at the Studio Theatre at Bangarra Dance Theatre, Wharf 4/5, 15 Hickson Rd, Dawes Point NSW 2000