11 Jul ‘14

Bangarra: Luke talks to Luke, Nick talks to Jasmin

published on 11 July 2014

Bangarra visits Canberra mid-July, and Ausdance ACT took the opportunity to connect two young male dancers with members of the company to ask them what it’s like.


Eighteen year old Luke Fryer (a Quantum Leaper with QL2 dance and recently in Glasgow) asked Luke Currie-Richardson


* What has been the biggest challenge as a male indigenous dancer?

The biggest challenge being a male Indigenous dancer is that if you are successful in your path,  people will always attribute that to your race and gender instead of the hard work you put in. Also at times at Uni I didn’t feel like I was appreciated for the way I moved because I wasn’t the “flexible ballet boy”.

* Have you always wanted to pursue dance? Was there something in particular that influenced your decision?

I actually wanted to be a basketball player when I was growing up with dreams of playing in the NBA. I got burnt out playing and training so much that I had to reevaluate my dreams and career path. My cousin was a seasoned Quantum Leaper and invited me to the audition of the Unspeakeable season. I was successful and joined Quantum Leap when I was 18 with the ambition of becoming a Bangarra dancer. I always wanted to represent my culture and be a role model for the next generation.

* What do you hope to achieve with the rest of your time in the dance industry?

I hope that during my time in the industry I can inspire the next generation of kids to strive for their dreams . If a 18 year old basketball player with a Traditional dance background can compete with people that have danced since they were 2/3 years old , anything is possible.

* Where did you study dance at university and how was the transition between study and  work as a dancer?

I did 2 years of study at NAISDA dance college in Gosford , finishing with a Cert 3 in Dance . I also did 2 years at QUT in Brisbane , it was the beginning of my 3rd year when I got offered my spot in the company. My transition to the professional world was difficult. I had not many friends , in an unfamiliar city and I had only been technically trained for 4 years. I struggled a lot (and some days I feel like I still am).

* How has dance influenced aspects of your life?

Dance has influenced my life in a very big way. I ride everywhere to keep myself performance fit, I head to the gym every morning to look like a dancer and the way I eat comes down to how I want to perform and look. Dance isn’t just a career , it’s a lifestyle.

* What do you think has most influenced your influenced your movement style and dynamic?

My cultural dance is the main influence in how I perform. I got taught my Traditional dances from the Torres Strait Islands from the age of 10 and I try and incorporate it into my practice.

Luke Currie-Richardson is a descendant of the Kuku Yalanji and Djabugay peoples, the Munaldjali Clan of South East QLD and the Meriam people of the Eastern Torres Strait Islands. In 2002, Luke became a member of the Gerib Sik Torres Strait Islander Dance Group under Noel and Kay Zaro. At 18, he began contemporary dance training with QL2 (Quantum Leap) performing in the Unspeakable season under Ruth Osbourne, with choreographers Vicki Van Hout and Marko Panzic. That same year Luke successfully auditioned for NAISDA Dance College, where he completed a Certificate III in Careers in Dance. After a subsequent BA in Dance from QUT, he had an amazing run of work and joined Bangarra as a trainee dancer, touring nationally with the company performing in Frances Rings’ Terrain and to Mongolia performing in Spirit and toured regionally to WA and NSW performing in of earth & sky. Luke has been a fulltime dancer with Bangarra from 2013. He says he is honoured to be apart of the Bangarra family and aspires to be a role model for young children both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.


Seventeen year old Nick Jachno (a full time vocational dance student at Canberra Dance Development Centre) asked Jasmin Sheppard


* In your experience, what do you think choreographers look for in auditions?

I think in an audition a choreographer looks for creativity, a strong willingness to try to adopt a style or material, and I often think that technical talent is just a very small part of it.

*Describe a day in the life of a Bangarra dancer?

Fun! Creative, hard work, long hours which attributes to our family like state.

* Where do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from life experience for sure… I bring my personal story to each new role. It makes performing them genuine.

* What advice would you give a dancer who is making the transition from student to professional?

My advice to a recently graduated dancer is to network as much as possible, do classes, secondments, talk to people, be creative and open to communicating with other dancers and choreographers.

* Bangarra celebrates their 25th birthday in 2014, how does it feel to be dancing as part of the birthday year?

It’s a very special year for Bangarra, and it’s an awesome year to be a part of this wonderful company. We come from a culture of over 40,000 years of history, so in that sense, 25 years is quite a small amount of time… This year is about paying respect to our history.


 Jasmin Sheppard is an Aboriginal woman with a mixed heritage of Irish, Chinese, and Russian Jew ancestry. Her Aboriginal heritage is from Savannah country; the Tagalaka and Kurtijar peoples from Normanton and Croydon in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her Aboriginal heritage is from Savannah country; the Tagalaka and Kurtijar peoples from Normanton and Croydon in the Gulf of Carpentaria. At 20 Jasmin completed a Diploma in musical theatre at The Dance Factory, Melbourne, going on to study at NAISDA, finding a close spiritual connection to Lardil tradition, which was affirmed when she later discovered that her people are closely linked with the Lardil community. In 2007 Jasmin joined Bangarra Joining Bangarra in 2007, Jasmin has performed in most major works since then, touring extensively throughout Europe, Asia and America with the company. Jasmin’s first choreographic work, Macq, debuted as a part of Bangarra’s Dance Clan 3 in 2013.Jasmin’s career in dance reflects her deep connection to her culture, to art, and to spirit.



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