Reflections of Culture: Deborah Brown

Episode 3

Today I am speaking with the incredible Deborah Brown. Deborah is a descendant of the Wakaid Clan of Badu Island, the Meriam people of Murray Island, and also has Scottish heritage. Deborah grew up in Brisbane, learning jazz, ballet and tap at her local dance school, while also dancing around the family home learning cultural dance. It was an eye opener to a world she never dreamt could be her career. But after finishing school, Deborah moved to Sydney, and while working as an usher at the Lyric Theatre she auditioned for Bangarra Dance Theatre and was accepted. It was a love affair that would last 15 years. Deborah was not only a dancer in the company, but as a principal muse, performing in 16 original works that travelled to 14 countries across the globe. She also turned her hand to choreography, creating works for the company and mentoring young dancers.

In this beautiful conversation, Deborah talks about her early life growing up in Brisbane, auditioning for Bangarra, the first time she met Steven Page, and the 15 years she spent with the Company. But Deborah talks about more than that, about the importance of culture, the pressure and obligations that come with that, and how she ultimately made the decision to find life after Bangarra as both a choreographer and film director.

Deborah continues to work with companies and dancers choreographing and directing projects all over Australia. She most recently worked with Bangarra to bring “Terrain” back to the Sydney Opera House stage 10 years after it debuted. To work with Deborah or to follow all of her adventures, you can find her on Instagram @abrowndeborah

Deborah and I recorded remotely, with Deborah dialing in from Queensland on the land of the Gimuy people, to whom we pay our greatest respects. With production on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

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