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Gwion Gwion rock art and dance
Thursday 03 December 2015

In August this year the Rondos Dance Theatre presented GWION GWION, a contemporary dance inspired by the Gwion Gwion, or Bradshaw, rock paintings of the Kimberley region of north-western Australia.

Performed at the BMO Studio Theatre at the Saint John Theatre Company, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, with music by Michael Doherty, the dance was divided into four sections: Tassel, Sash, Elegant Action Figures and Clothes Peg. The four dancers involved were Karen Galbraith, Gina Grant, Jane Alison McKinney and Kleis Rondos-Duchesne, Georgia's daughter.

Gwion Gwion rock art and contemporary dance

Image: Kevin Goggan

Georgia Rondos, owner of the theatre company, choreographed a half-hour dance presentation called Gwion Gwion, which amounted to a live interpretation of the mysterious and ancient Bradshaw Rock Paintings from north-western Australia. Rondos explained that she had been travelling in Australia during the winter of 2013 and during that time met Michael McGuire, an emeritus professor of psychology and bio-behavioural sciences at the University of California Los Angeles. During a conference, McGuire, who is a Trustee of the Bradshaw Foundation, showed Rondos his extensive research on cave paintings and provided her with a book with many of the images.

Bradshaw paintings of Australia

"He started showing these images, and I was intrigued from the very start," Rondos said. "I took photos of them and with time I realized that if I did some research, that it would be a really good (dance) project."

A folk legend about birds called Gwion Gwion inspired the title. The birds pecked at rock for insects. This caused their beaks to bleed. The blood trickled down the rock to create the images.

What she said she liked about the images was the unique feeling of movement represented in the artistic images, even as scholars of the paintings in the Kimberley region of the continent can't pinpoint a timeline of when the paintings were done, or who painted them.

"From a dance perspective, I was drawn to these figures because of their strong and dynamic oriented stance, as if in motion," she said. "And I saw potentially fascinating costumes with tassels, sashes and headdresses adorning their bodies."

 

Visit the Rondos Dance Theatre:

http://rondosdancetheatre.com/

Visit the Gwion Gwion/Bradshaw Rock Art Gallery:

http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/bradshaws/index.php

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