Film: Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra




Firestarter is the inspiring story of the ground-breaking Aboriginal dance group Bangarra, which became one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies.

Central figures in the documentary are the three Page brothers: Stephen, the artistic director, Russell, dancer and  choreographer, and David, composer and music director.

The three joined Bangarra Dance Theatre in 1989, two years after it was founded by Carole Johnson and Cheryl Stone.



With their extraordinary talent and vivid imagination they became the driving force which shaped Bangarra.

All three were driven to incorporate traditional Aboriginal stories, dance and music into Bangarra’s performances.

Firestarter directors Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin have combined poignant home videos of the young Page boys with exciting vision of landmark Bangarra works, from Ochres (1994) to Bennelong (2018).


There is also footage of historic events such as Paul Keating’s Redfern speech in 1992 and the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where Stephen Page directed 1000 Aboriginal dancers from around Australia.

Revealing interviews with leading arts figures such as art curator and writer Hetti Perkins underline the struggle faced by  many Aboriginal families trying to deal with generational trauma and tragedy.

The Bangarra family was shattered by the suicides of Russell, aged 34, in 2002, and then of David, aged 55, in 2016.


There have been six suicides in the Page family.

After David’s death, Stephen, the surviving brother, threw himself into his work and produced Bennelong, regarded as

Bangarra’s greatest creation to date.

The company celebrated its 30thanniversary in 2019. Stephen Page, now 56, has been artistic director since he was 26.

Firestarter, named for the Wiradjuri word for “to make fire” is a fine tribute to the achievements of this remarkable company.

Firestarter is now showing at Luna Leederville and Luna On SX.

Watch the trailer…


One thought on “Film: Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra

  1. Bangarra is a national theatre/dance treasure in my view and the three Page brothers have been the jewels in that treasure chest. Living here in WA, I’ve only seen one production live, but have followed Bangarra closely from a distance. So sad that only Stephen survives today. But I’m sure he works every day to keep the memories and stories of his two talented brothers alive and forever in our hearts and minds. I look forward to seeing ‘Firestarter’. Best, BC.

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