On the penultimate evening of the 2017 PuSh Festival, first nations cultures came together for the performance of dirtsong from Black Arm Band of Australia.
Black Arm Band are a collective of artist, musicians, composers, directors of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island heritage who share 40,000 years of history, cultural traditions and memories.
With opening remarks from PuSh Festival Artistic Director Norman Armour and Managing Director Roxanne Duncan acknowledging that we are merely visitors on the lands of the local indigenous peoples, including the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish first nations. Musqueam elder Shane Point asked the audience to join hands to show unity as he led us in welcoming their visiting brothers and sisters from down under.
The sharing of cultures continued with the talented members of Black Arm Band sharing the stage with local musicians to bring dirtsong to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage. The title dirtsong comes from the connection Indigenous peoples have with their land and soil. Their bare feet running through their piece of earth bonds the people to their stories. These stories are shared in song by the septet of Black Arm Band with the local orchestral performers and to the Audience. Visually intriguing documentary films offered a compelling backdrop as hints of the themes scroll across the screen in both English and Indigenous script.
Over the 90 minutes , the audience spontaneously broke out in applause for many of the musical segments. It’s no wonder dirtsong had so much buzz about it during the Festival.