Lipstick & Ochre - The Grey Panthers and the Yawulyu Dancers of Lajamanu

Lipstick & Ochre - The Grey Panthers and the Yawulyu Dancers of Lajamanu


    The Lawns, Frog Hollow Centre for the Arts, Darwin City

    August 21 -24 & 27 - 31, 2008
    Darwin Festival

    20 Year of Working with Older Adults

    Celebrating Tracks’ 20-year relationship with the senior women dancers of the Northern Territory, Tracks reunites two great local cultural icons – The Grey Panthers and the Yawulyu Ceremonial Dancers of Lajamanu. ‘Lipstick & Ochre’ is a journey into the spirit of our land, guided through life and time by the collective wisdom and experience of these two groups of women and their guests. However, don’t be fooled into thinking growing old is an entirely serious matter. This is a story told with a laugh, some earthy mischief and a spot of mayhem…

    Background and Scenario

    In 1988 Tracks’ Artistic Director, Tim Newth, toured with a small team of theatre performers to the remote community of Lajamanu, perched on the edge of the Tanami Desert, 940kms south-west of Darwin. It is hard to imagine a more remote community. While in Lajamanu, the Yawulyu Ceremonial Dancers offered to perform for the visiting artists in an exchange of culture. A relationship was formed, heralding the start of a long creative partnership between Tracks and the Yawulyu women.

    Also in 1988, Maggi Phillips, Beth Shelton, Sarah Calver and Tim Newth created ‘Dance Feast’, a festival of dance performances in Darwin. With a strut, a wink and the odd gammy knee the Grey Panthers (older adults dance group) stepped onto the stage for the first time and made audiences take note that life wasn’t over yet, in fact, these 'oldies' were just getting started! David McMicken joined the Tracks team in 1992 for ‘Kurra Karna Yani’ with the Lajamanu community, and ‘Old Spice Club Cabaret’ with the Grey Panthers. Many other artists have worked with the Grey Panthers over the years including Joanna Barrkman, Merrilee Mills, and Julia Quinn.

    Both the Grey Panthers and Yawulyu Dancers have featured in many Tracks shows, including: ‘Bodies Of Light’, ‘Old Spice Club’, ‘Dear Auntie’, ‘Healthy Wealthy and Wise’, ‘A Bowl’s Club Wedding’, ‘Ngapa – Two Cultures, One Country’, ‘Reluctant Retirees’, ‘Milpirri 05’, Milpirri07’, ‘Dear Auntie’, ‘Angels Of Gravity’, and ‘Fierce: The Meeting Of Olive Pink’.

    Who can ever forget the “grey-haired, tap-dancing, bum-flashing Shirley Temple” from last year’s hit show, ‘You Dance Funny’? And in Lajamanu the biannual performance of Milpirri has united young and old in a festival-style event that has generated extraordinary pride in the community’s culture.

    ‘Lipstick & Ochre’ features, amongst other moments, a grab from the Grey Panthers hit show ‘A Bowls Club Wedding’, a celebration of love sparked by rivalry in the twilight years between long-standing members of feuding bowls clubs, the Top End Terrors (sexy bowls with bite) and the Mindil Monitors (romantics with a prickly tongue). In a world where team acrimony festers over generations of ardent supporters, tribal loyalties run deep.

    The Top End Terrors

    Oh we’re the Top End Terrors
    We put up quite a fight
    The other teams
    Are old has beens
    Coz we’re the team with bite. Bite!

    The Mindil Monitors

    We are the Mindil Monitors
    We rule the bowling green
    We’re hard and fast
    We own the grass
    We’re slick, we’re quick, we’re mean.

    Tonight you will also glimpse ‘Fierce – the Meeting of Olive Pink’. Fierce comes from a distillation of hundreds of stories about Olive Muriel Pink. Now praised as a land rights pioneer and Aboriginal rights activist, in her day Olive Pink was labelled as ‘mad’, and the ‘fiercest white woman in captivity’. Miss Pink rode life on the edge, her passion more than once bringing her to the brink of death. For Gladys Napangardi, one of the Lajamanu women who originally performed in ‘Fierce’, Miss Pink was her first contact with a ‘white’ person. As one of the other women told us: “Miss Pink was a good woman, she didn’t shoot us.”

    ‘Lipstick & Ochre’ celebrates a true love of dancing and the colourful history of the Grey Panthers and Lajamanu Yawulyu Dancers, tonight with their special guest artists.

    Creative Personnel

    Concept / Direction: David McMicken, Tim Newth
    Choreography: Julia Quinn, David McMicken, Trevor Patrick, Lajamanu Yawulyu Women
    Text: Gail Evans, David McMicken
    Original Compositions: David McMicken
    Lighting Designer: Reuben Hopkins
    Production Design / Art Direction: Tim Newth

    Production and Promotions Personnel

    Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg
    Front of House Manager: Nicola Jackson
    Stage Manager: Mary Fox
    Sound Engineer: Matthew Cunliffe
    Lighting Operator: Reuben Hopkins
    Sound Operator: Sarah Davies
    Stage Hands: Vera Tabuzo, Eugenio Hallen
    Staging consultant / Prop builder: Chris Kluge
    Stage: Don Whyte
    Production Crew: Reuben De Waal, Sarah Davies, Correctional Services
    Previous Costumes / Props: Louise Rieck, Ann Gibb, Dixi Joy, Gaye Hawkes
    Previous Choreography: Sarah Calver, Nick Power
    Promotions / Publicity: Fiona Carter, Gail Evans
    Poster Image and Design: Mark Marcelis
    Graphic Design: Narelle Sullivan
    Photographic Documentation: Peter Eve
    Film Documentation: Cutting Edge (Todd Williams, Katie Saunders, Ian Redfearn)


    Lajamanu Yawulyu Dancers

    Rosie Napurrula Tasman, Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Lilly Nungarrayi Hargraves, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Biddy Napangardi Raymond

    Grey Panthers

    Carmel Alderson, Judith Allen, Lucy Aylett, Kay Brown, Hilary Bassett, Bette Chapman, Marge Duminski, Liz Gammon, Audrey Gorring, Ellen Hankin, Kathleen Harding, Jan Hastings, Val Hristova, Marg Lee, Lillian Mann, Judy Markwell, Elaine Marlow, Judy McKerr, Patricia O'Neill, Bev Paget, Judi Samuels, Shirley Somers, Janine Sutter, Gwen Varney, Punny Vegter, Maria Vlastuin, Mavis Waddell, Judy Weepers

    Guest Artists

    Dr Irina Haas Bina / Lori: Gail Evans
    Gil: David McMicken
    Strong Man and Miss Pink: Trevor Patrick
    Male Dancers: Gerard Japanangka Scobie, Caleb Japanangka Patrick


    • Paint Up (Lipstick & Ochre)
    • Introductions
    • Grey Panthers - It’s Not Unusual
    • Lajamanu Yawulyu - Desert People
    • Frank Sinatra Medley
    • You Make Me Feel So Young, That’s Why The Lady’s a Tramp, New York New York
    • Milpirri
    • Contemporary Male – Japanangka Japangardi skin group
    • Traditional Female - Napurrula Nakamarra skin group (Red), Napangardi Napanangka skin group (Green), and Napaljarri Nungarrayi skin group (Yellow)
    • Spice Girls
    • Strongman
    • A Bowls Club Wedding
    • Fierce – The Meeting of Olive Pink
    • You’ve Got a Friend
    • History Repeating
    • Warlpiri Farewell Dance

    Tracks 2008

    Artistic Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
    General Manager: Fiona Carter
    Dance Animateur: Julia Quinn
    Administrative Assistant: Ciella Williams, Gail Evans
    Bookkeeper: Julie Ann Stark
    Development Consultant: Suzanne Fermanis

    Committee Members: (Chair) Jill MacAndrew, (Vice-Chair) David Taylor, (Treasurer) Glenn Bernardin, (Secretary/Public Officer) Traci Keys, (Ordinary Committee Members) Ken Conway, Nick Papandonakis, Donna Quong, (Ex-Officio Members) David McMicken and Tim Newth

    Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Paul Wan

    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Biddy Napangardi Raymond, Kay Brown
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) 
Carmel Alderson, Ellen Hankin, Marg Lee
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Marg Lee, Kay Brown
    Photo: Peter Eve. Painting up. (yellow head band front, around circle to left.) Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick), ?, Lily Nungarrayi Hargraves, Rosie Napurrula Tasman, Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Biddy Napangardi Raymond
    Photo: Peter Eve. clockwise from l. Lajamanu Yawulyu Ceremonial Women Dancers Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Lilly Nungarrayi Hargraves, Rosie Napurrula Tasman, Biddy Napangardi Raymond, Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert , Grey Panthers in background.
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Kay Brown
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Rosie Napurrula Tasman
    Photo: Peter Eve. Front centre Judith Allen.
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) The Grey Panthers
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Biddy Napangardi Raymond
    Photo: Peter Eve. l(l-r) Rosie Napurrula Tasman
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Trevor Patrick
, Lilly Nungarrayi Hargraves, Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Rosie Napurrula Tasman
    Photo: Peter Eve. l(l-r) Lilly Nungarrayi Hargraves, Trevor Patrick
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Rosie Napurrula Tasman, Biddy Napangardi Raymond, Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Trevor Patrick
, Rosie Napurrula Tasman, Biddy Nungarrayi Long
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Hilary Bassett.
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Val Hristova, Marg Lee, Janine Sutter, Jan Hastings, Bev Paget, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Margaret Nungarrayi Martin
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Gerard Japanangka Scobie, Trevor Patrick, Caleb Japanangka Patrick
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) The Grey Panthers, Trevor Patrick
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Grey Panthers mingle with audience
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Ellen Hankin, Jan Hastings, David McMicken, Gail Evans, Bev Paget, Hilary Bassett, Carmel Alderson, Maria Vlastuin
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) David McMicken, Kay Brown, Carmel Alderson
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Gail Evans, David McMicken
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Gail Evans, Judith Allen, David McMicken, Kay Brown, Shirley Somers
    Photo: Peter Eve. (l-r) Rosie Napurrula Tasman, Punny Vegter, Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Trevor Patrick, Liz Gammon, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Audrey Gorring, Caleb Japanangka Patrick, Judy Weepers

    Explore Further

    Older Adults Home Page

    Lajamanu / Milpirri Home Page

    Iconic Tracks Works

    Media Response

    "There are not many occasions where it is appropriate to wolf-whistle at a senior – there are moments throughout this piece where it is not just acceptable, it is encouraged … Lipstick & Ochre is the Territory played out on stage, full of its contradictions, idiosyncrasies and unexpected and often rough edged Beauty."  Daniel Bourchier – Northern Territory News

    "The patchwork of settings and themes is colourfully evocative: city and desert, lawnbowls and Breakdance, clapsticks and Frank Sinatra … A vivid statement that age is no barrier to public performance … leaves an aura of good feelings in its wake." Merridy Anne Pugh Northern Territory Writers’ Centre Newsletter

    "Women getting gussied up for a night out is a tradition that crosses boundaries of culture, age and time." ABC Darwin website

    Audience Response

    "The representation of Olive Pink was amazing - the meeting of her and the Aboriginal people was incredible. One of the nicest parts was when we left, the Aboriginal women shook the hands of everyone."

    "Your bringing together of the desert and urban cultures was yet again a triumph of entertainment and audience engagement over form. More correctly I guess it one of your unique forms … Not one person in the audience was unmoved."

    "Visually spectacular (although probably not the right word - more romantic), wacky, funny, exquisitely breathtaking and moving."

    Tracks Dance Company Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

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