Is­land home looms large

8 Ban­garra looks to the Tor­res Strait in its lat­est pro­gram, writes Chelsea Clark

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - PLANNER -

Elma Kris’s ears pricked up when, two years ago, she was told an en­thu­si­as­tic, tal­ented young stu­dent from the Tor­res Strait had ap­proached Ban­garra Dance Theatre about tak­ing classes with the com­pany.

Hail­ing from Thurs­day Is­land in the Tor­res Strait her­self, and a mem­ber of Ban­garra for 18 years, Kris says she asked around and found out the girl’s name was Yolanda Lowatta.

“I thought to my­self that it couldn’t pos­si­bly be the same young girl I knew from home,” she says. “But I recog­nised her name and when I saw her in class, I told her I knew her mum and that I re­mem­bered her from Thurs­day Is­land, hang­ing out with her grandma. I was so sur­prised she took dance.”

It’s kind of a sur­prise to Lowatta, too, that she has ended up as a pro­fes­sional dancer.

Af­ter mov­ing from Thurs­day Is­land to Mackay for high school, Yolanda was on the move again af­ter she was ac­cepted into the Abo­rig­i­nal Cen­tre For Per­form­ing Arts in Bris­bane.

“I au­di­tioned and got into col­lege as an ac­tor but as a first-year stu­dent you have to study dance, mu­sic and drama,” says Lowatta.

“Over the three years of the course, you start to nar­row and ma­jor in one dis­ci­pline and in my last year my trainer said, ‘You’re go­ing to have to pick. Which one will it be?’ I just took a leap of faith and went with dance.”

It was a de­ci­sion that has ob­vi­ously paid off — in her first sea­son as a dancer with

LORE

Ban­garra dancers Elma Kris and Yolanda Lowatta. Pic­ture: Cameron Richard­son

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