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The Complication of Lyrebirds

Jasmin Sheppard's new dance work explores and challenges the social expectations of what it means to look or sound Aboriginal. 

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Company: Sydney Festival
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The Complication of Lyrebirds

Date: 20 Nov 2020

The Complication of Lyrebirds is a contemporary dance work designed to break away from the social expectations of what it means to look or sound Aboriginal. 

Lead artist Jasmin Sheppard draws on her own experience and her family roots to look at questions surrounding Aboriginal identity through the story of the lyrebird.

The lyrebird adopts the calls of other birds in order to appear attractive and find a mate however, there is an authentic identity to the bird that is no mimic. In the same way, Indigenous people are faced with external pressures to prove their ‘blackness’ and adopt different ways of talking and appearing. Considering this, Sheppard proposes that if your family was denied their culture by the impact of colonisation, then what really makes you Aboriginal?

Re-contextualizing historical documents, such as ‘The White Australia Policy’ and ‘The Exemption Form’, as choreographic tools, The Complication of Lyrebirds investigates societal and cultural sources of expectations and pressures, as well as drawing on the artist’s own lived experience, to create a unique and powerful choreographic narrative.

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