Island home looms large
8 Bangarra looks to the Torres Strait in its latest program, writes Chelsea Clark
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
Bangarra dancers Elma Kris and Yolanda Lowatta. Picture: Cameron Richardson