Title of work

The Journey

Synopsis

An extraordinary journey through the rites of passage that mark our lives, in particular those central to the life of indigenous people.

Prior to making this work, Tim Newth had 4 years living and working with the Aboriginal community of Lajamanu. This experience strengthened his awareness of the connections between people and their place, as well as the lack of division between art and everyday life evident in Aboriginal culture. Tim participated in a traditional ceremony involving 2000 Aboriginal people, mainly older men and a small group of young boys who were put through their initiation.

This experience caused him to examine the rituals which occur throughout life and particularly those central to the life of indigenous people. The Journey was inspired by the rituals of Lajamanu and the book The Circle of Life which includes a series of photos taken in different sopcieties and cultures from birth to death.

The Journey is divided into four sections; Birth, Coming of Age, Marriage and Death.

The first section shows the birth of a child, a Christening or Naming ceremony and finally a family portrait which affirms the strength of the family unit. For Aboriginal people the connection to family is extremely strong and they know and claim cousins, aunts and uncles from a broad spectrum of their community.

The second section Coming of Age looks at the adolescent activity of dancing to attract attention! In Lajamanu this is called "Sexy Dancing". An interpretation of this dancing for display begins the section and is followed by and initiation which is shown as a test of strength, endurance and agility. Each society initiates its young in different ways.

Adolescence is likened to a second birth. As no-one can tell you exactly how to become an adult it can be a difficult and lonely process. The second section finishes with an image of young birds in a nest; once they have feathers and can fly they are pushed out of the nest and into the world. This represents the step we all take, leaving the protected, nurtured state of childhood to become an adult.

The Marriage section looks at traditional weddings and some of the cultural differences in dress habits, including 'white weddings' and societies where men dress more lavishly. While researching weddings the Company found several elements common to most cultures and these were included in the dance. Usually there is a public witnessing of the marriage, and a symbolic sharing of food or drink from the same bowl to bless the marriage and the couple's future together.

Death, the final section, looks at how people have developed rituals such as funerals to help them deal with the sorrow and pain associated with the death of someone close. It is common in many cultures for the women and sometimes the men to wail as a way of releasing and showing their grief at the death. The Journey culminates in a rebirth where the spirit of the dead person passes on to another world and a child is born to signify the beginning of the whole cycle again.

Choreography

Tim NewthJenny Kinder

Music/sound

Mark Sladek

Dancers

Original cast: Cate Handley, Lucia Harkin, Wendy McPhee, Catherine O'Brien, Michael O'Donoghue, Jonathan Rees-Osborne

Dancers in Remounts: Toby Bell, Kathy Hussain, Christina Shepard, Shelley Mardon

Designers

Set and Costume: Tim Newth

Premiere

1992

Season/s

Main season and Primary Schools in 1992 and 1993, Dancelines in 1993

Images