Review: Waru - Journey of the small Turtle at the Studio Theatre

Updated: Sep 27

Review by Nola Bartolo


The Bangarra Dance Theatre has produced their very first production aimed solely at young children. Waru – journey of the small turtle tells the story of the small green turtles and their importance to The Torres Strait Islands, in a traditional way. What a lovely introduction to young children dance and education, this performance is.


Under the star-illuminated skies of the Torres Strait, a green turtle navigates her way back to the beach where she was born. The season has started, the turtles are returning to nest, and soon the island will welcome a new generation of hatchlings – amongst them, our small turtle friend, Migi!


The cyclic nature of the Green Turtle’s life cycle is depicted so well through the cultural story tellers and creatives. What was especially sweet was the way the audience was encouraged to participate through dance moves and gestures to help the turtle. It really was a beautiful way of encouraging and teaching the young audience that the very survival of these turtles depends on us a community. Environmentally we can do a lot to ensure their survival. From not using plastic and through recycling.


There was a touch of comedy which was very well placed for the parents. Bruce Lee Kung Fu style warrior protection as Elma Kris in her role protected Migi from the Lizard who likes to eat the eggs before they hatch. I must say that I was expecting a little more dancing but that may just be selfish of me as I wanted more.

In Bangarra’s first dedicated work for children, the heroine Migi undertakes a journey of discovery and survival. A contemporary saltwater Lagaw Kazil (Island Children) story inspired by the totemic system of the green turtle, Waru – journey of the small turtle is an interactive and immersive introduction to Torres Strait Islander culture and dance for 3 to 7-year-olds, premiering at Bangarra’s newly renovated home in Walsh Bay.

Created by Stephen Page, together with Hunter Page-Lochard and Bangarra alumni Dancers and Choreographers Sani Townson and Elma Kris, Waru provides teachers, parents and caregivers with a unique opportunity to open up conversations about climate change, caring for the environment and the traditional cultural values of respect and reciprocity.


Jacob Nash’s set and costume design are outstanding. The audience walks into the island world of the Green Turtle. We see a woman sleeping in her bed on the Island. Together with Matt Cox’s lighting visuals the set is illuminated, and the ocean setting is established.


Prior to the show the children can create craft and immerse themselves in making art as various stations are set up in the foyer. The show goes for 45 minutes with no interval. Perfect timing for the little ones.


Waru – journey of the small turtle is perfect for young children these school holidays. A stunning way of introducing the importance of how we can make a difference to the environment whilst also learning the importance and significance of the Green Turtle to Torres Strait Islanders and Australia. This performance is a way of introducing to the next generations of Australians through arts and indigenous cultures, a respect and encouragement to be involved with the environment we live in. Waru – journey of the small turtle runs till October 9.

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