The Voyage of Bayini is a new cross-cultural work in music, song and dance created by a group of First Nations artists from Arnhem Land and Taiwan with ancient ancestral connections. It intertwines three Gumatj Yolŋu stories about the first visitors to Arnhem Land.
Rachael Wallis, Artistic Director of Miku Performing Arts, first met and collaborated with Sang Mei-Chuan and Labaga Taru during participation in Artback NT’s 2018 Taiwan Indigenous Artist in Residency Program. In 2020 Art Centre Melbourne, Asia TOPA and Australian Performing Arts Market’s (APAM) Blak LAB facilitated these three artists, together with another two artists from Taiwan and three artists from Yirrkala, to travel to Melbourne and share a creative space. Here they began discussion and planning of the new work.
On the homelands of Bawaka and surrounds there still exists the ancestral spirit woman of Bayini. Bayini people travelled in praus from Austronesia to trade with the Yolŋu people hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. They collected and cured trepang from their waters along the shores of North East Arnhem Land. They also traded yiki (knives) and calico (materials). Bayini’s stories are entwined in Yolŋu songlines and culture. The stories are sung and danced to this day, still teaching and reminding of ancestors’ tradings and relationships with Bayini. Taiwan is known to be the birthplace of all Austronesian languages: we believe the Bayini to be the ancestors of Taiwan’s First Peoples.
This project is supported by Arts Centre Melbourne, Playking Foundation and the Australia Council for the Arts.
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Cast & crew
Miku Performing Arts: Rachael Wallis, Artistic Director, plus seven performers from Arnhem Land, Australia
Senior Story Custodian and Cultural Director: Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr Stubbs
Composer and musician, Paiwan Tribe, Taiwan: Sang Mei-Chuan
Composer and musician, Truku Tribe, Taiwan: Labaga Taru
Dancer, Paiwan Tribe, Taiwan: Piya Talalima
Dancer, Paiwan Tribe, Taiwan: Lavjaus Chen
Co-producers, Australia: Artback NT & Kath Papas Productions
Collaborating producer, Paiwan Tribe, Taiwan: Manie Liao