Who is Ghenoa Gela? This question will be answered and then some when Bleach* The Gold Coast Festival 2019 brings the award-winning multi-disciplinary artist to the Gold Coast for three performances of her show ‘My Urrwai’ this April.
Little sister, daughter, granddaughter, comic, teacher, fighter, gold medallist, air guitarist, charmer, TV star, Torres Strait mainlander and walking political statement Ghenoa has been garnering rave reviews around the country for ‘My Urrwai’, an autobiographical show weaving together spoken story and movement.
With no direct English word that translates its meaning, Urrwai is a combination of “my spirit, my style, my essence” in the Kala Lagaw Ya language, indigenous to the Torres Strait.
In what is a departure from her earlier works, Ghenoa invites audiences in to the deeply personal aspects of her life, and asks them to understand the complex political, social, colonial and cultural expectations she navigates every day.
As a starting point for the process, Ghenoa wrote stories from various stages in her life. Dance was created to explain family lines and relationships, drawn from traditional Torres Strait Islander dance alongside new movement abstractions drawn from contemporary dance and hip hop. Her movement is used to articulate cultural influences playing with her various identities; from the kid sneakily learning 1990s dances from her brothers to physicalising a dark and furious part of herself. At the heart of it, Ghenoa brings together her multiple talents to tell a very black, very contemporary, unique story.
Laughter and deep reflection go hand in hand in this unique and intimate story told through movement and words. A recipient of the renowned Keir Choreographic Award and the Deadly Funny Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award, Ghenoa’s energetic auto-biographical journey is funny, moving and, ultimately, enlightening.
‘My Urrwai’, supported by a stellar team, including director Rachael Maza and dramaturg Kate Champion, is a revealing reflection on and celebration of cultural and familial inheritance, and an unflinching comment on race relations in Australia.
There are only three showings of ‘My Urrwai’ over 26 and 27 April, in The Space at HOTA. Visit bleachfestival.com.au for tickets and full programming of the whole event, running 17-28 April 2019.
IMAGE (c) David Collins