Bangarra Dance Theatre: Copyright Law and Indigenous Culture

Griffith Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, ppp. 274-302

29 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2004 Last revised: 26 Aug 2019

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Date Written: 2000


This article considers the artistic and legal practices of Bangarra Dance Theatre in a case study of copyright law management in relation to Indigenous culture. It is grounded in the particular local experience, knowledge and understanding of copyright law displayed by the performing arts company. The first part considers the special relationship between Bangarra Dance Theatre and the Munyarrun Clan. It examines the contractual arrangements developed to recognise communal ownership. The next section examines the role of the artistic director and choreographer. It looks at the founder, Carole Johnson, and her successor, Stephen Page. The third part of the article focuses on the role of the composer, David Page. It examines his ambition to set up a Indigenous recording company, Nikinali. Part 4 focuses upon the role of the artistic designers. It looks at the contributions of artistic designers such as Fiona Foley. Part 5 deals with broadcasts of performances on television, film, and multi-media. Part 6 considers the collaborations of Bangarra Dance Theatre with the Australian Ballet, and the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. The conclusion considers how Bangarra Dance Theatre has played a part ina general campaign to increase protection of Indigenous copyright law.

Keywords: Copyright Law, Traditional Knowledge, Contemporary Dance, Communal Ownership, Moral Rights, Performer's Rights

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, Bangarra Dance Theatre: Copyright Law and Indigenous Culture (2000). Griffith Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, ppp. 274-302, Available at SSRN:

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000

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