Our Corka Bubs, the first contemporary Aboriginal dance work designed especially for children, was choreographed by renowned dancer Gina Rings (ex Bangarra) and neatly dovetails early childhood developmental concepts with Aboriginal content. Like many Aboriginal productions, it is a very layered piece of storytelling with references to, in particular, the culture of members of its creative team; Ngarrindjeri sisters Taree and Caleena Sansbury and their Uncle, musician and performer Owen Love.
A few minutes into the show and there’s a circle of upturned faces infused with innocence and wonder, hanging off every sound and movement. And that’s just the parents. The bubs themselves were clapping, waving and rocking to the didg and clapsicks and wri
While Love offers words and song in language, his beautiful nieces dance stories of water and the stars, sand painting and playing tag, along with movements representing a number of iconic Australian animals. Everyone responds to the emu, Owen says.
The show is very participatory – if you are under two. With parents sitting around the edge of a circular mat the children are encouraged to use the space. The dancers then incorporate the small bodies into the performance. Delightfully, they mimic the children’s movements (it’s called matching, apparently). A few strategic props are used to great effect. A large piece of sea-blue silk is manipulated to represent waves, and then a canoe, and then a river that a large fish swims in.
At 40 or so minutes long, the piece holds the attention of the children – from those who were barely crawling, to those who were pin-balling across the space. (As one parent said ‘forty minutes is a long time without food’). For the parents, it offers a different kind of fulfillment. One mum wanted her son to know the stories of the land he was born on. Another said it was the first Aboriginal performance she had attended with her child – not for lack of interest. ‘There are so many beautiful things that [Aboriginal people] have, that we don’t know. And it’s never too early for them to learn.’
Similarly, Gina recognizes how important it is for Aboriginal kids to see these stories. As she said to the kids from Raukkan, near where she was brought up in South Australia, ‘You’re the reason I’m here.’ A show every under two should see (and their carers).