top of page

REVIEW: Waru, Journey of the Small Turtle - Bangarra Dance Theatre

Presented by QPAC, Bangarra Dance Theatre introduces its first production for children, Waru – Journey of the Small Turtle. Designed for kids aged 3-8, this production is truly enchanting. Under the star-illuminated skies of the Torres Strait, a green turtle named Migi embarks on a journey back to sandy shores of her birth. Directed by Stephen Page, with cultural creatives Sani Townson and Elma Kris, and a talented team of writers, composers, and designers, Waru offers a beautiful introduction to Torres Strait Islander culture.


The show immediately captivates with its beautiful set, featuring an island hut, real sand and a stunning visual landscape of water and stars. The sound effects masterfully transport the audience to a serene beach night, with soothing auditory elements like the rustling of a broom on sand, the gentle lapping of water, and the whisper of the wind. Complementing this, the lighting design bathes the stage in the tranquil hues of the Torres Strait Islands.

The performance, depicting the story of Migi the turtle, is skilfully performed by the talented pair Aba Bero and Elma Kris. Aba Bero captures the essence of the turtle with deliberate and slow movements, mirroring the graceful physicality of a real turtle. Through the detailed costume, Migi quickly captivates the hearts of the audience. Elma Kris, portraying the narrator and protagonist, engages in an exciting dance-off with the lizard while safeguarding the turtle eggs using a broom, a scene that delighted the children immensely. Her character's resemblance to the caring, whimsical, and humorous grandmother in Disney's Moana brings a delightful and recognisable element to the performance.

Introducing young children to Indigenous cultures and stories is not only entertaining but also profoundly educational. The performers actively involve the audience in the narrative, while imparting knowledge of language, animal behaviour, and natural elements. Additionally, they effectively convey messages about environmental conservation in a manner that is accessible to young minds. The appearance of the trash monster, symbolising a turtle entangled in waste, conveys a simple yet impactful message: "plastic is bad for the ocean."

Waru serves as a beautiful gateway to Australia’s diverse cultural heritage, fostering respect and understanding from an early age. By teaching some dance moves, they encouraged the young audience to joyfully participate in the music, such as the celebration of the hatching of the baby turtles and their journey to the ocean. The presence of an Auslan interpreter ensures that the show was inclusive, allowing hearing-impaired audience members to fully engage with the performance. This effort highlights Bangarra Dance Theatre’s dedication to making their cultural storytelling accessible to a broader audience.

Despite the usual commotion and occasional tantrums typical of such young audiences, the captivating nature of the show successfully retains the attention of the young attendees. The evident delight and curiosity expressed by the children is reflected in their spontaneous interactions and questions. Prior to the show, crafting activities are available in the foyer, where families can craft turtles from recycled materials, some of which are even showcased on the stage. This hands-on engagement not only fosters creativity but also imparts lessons on recycling and environmental care.

Waru – Journey of the Small Turtle is a wonderful cultural experience that forces you to slow down and appreciate the beauty of nature and the importance of conservation. The show offers families an enriching and enjoyable outing at $35 per ticket. While the leisurely pace of the show may pose a challenge for those with shorter attention spans, it also offers a relaxing and meditative experience that is quite beneficial.

Based in NSW, Bangarra Dance Theatre, continues to tour this exceptional show around Australia, bringing the full cycle of the small turtle’s journey to life.

Photographs by Daniel Boud

Tickets and Information available here


bottom of page