Tracker @ Odeon Theatre, Norwood SA 12/3/2023

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers: this review contains the name of a deceased person.

The Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) and ILBIJERRI Theatre Company join forces to create a truly memorable, multidisciplinary stage production.

Tracker is the story of Alec ‘Tracker’ Riley, a Wiradjuri Elder and tracker. A member of the New South Wales Police Force for forty years, he led several high-profile cases. Tracker Riley was the first Indigenous man to earn the rank of Sergeant. As an Elder, he bridged the gap between Wiradjuri lore and the system he worked for. Tracker is inspired by his heritage and explores the ongoing struggles of First Nations people.

This production is a highly personal story for ADT Artistic Director Daniel Riley. Tracker Riley is his Great-Great Uncle.
Riley choreographed and co-directed the work with Rachael Maza AM, ILBIJERRI’s Artistic Director. Together with writers Ursula Yovich and Amy Sole, they have created an innovative and moving production. A stand out of the 2023 Adelaide Festival.

Performed in the round, we are introduced to Archie (Ari Maza Long). An Indigenous man lost in his ancestral Country at night time. His lack of ‘instinctual knowledge’ initially frustrates him. Gradually, through a succession of emotional contrasts, Archie’s experiences exist besides those Tracker Riley faced approximately one century ago. Both search – Tracker for victims and their murderers, Archie for his connection to Country, family, and history.

Merging dance, music, and text Tracker welcomes audiences into a transparent and transmuted ceremonial space.
Dancers Tyrel Dulvarie, Rika Hamaguchi, and Kaine Sultan-Babji connect the narrative with stunning sequences of conceptual movement. They incorporate Maza Long into their dance, unifying movements into one. It is a powerful and fluid collaboration signifying the relationship between times past and the present day.

Adding an additional layer of depth and sensitivity is the score. Co-composed by sound designer James Henry and musician Gary Watling, the rhythmic beats, interwoven with soundscapes of nature, complement the movements on the stage. Watling, positioned upstage, provides a lush, live musical score. It elevates an already exceptional work to loftier heights.

Jonathon Jones’ set design is simple yet highly effective. Via semi-transparent curtains manoeuvred around the stage at various moments, time alters. It is an ingeniously straightforward method of progressing the narrative while consequently concealing and exposing past and present realities.

The production is sophisticated in its humility. The importance of the narrative shines through a seemingly effortless execution. The creative team are to be commended for amalgamating a rich collection of components to achieve a work of profound sensitivity and artistic integrity.

Tracker is an innovative and poignant representation of one man’s true story. It is an hour of dance and theatre, uniquely mesmerising and thought-provoking. Be sure to see it before it’s too late.

Adelaide Festival Review By Anita Kertes

For tickets and show information on Tracker head to the Adelaide Festival

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