Warmth, humour & play in life at the margins

Long Grass pic 19 cropped

Five people emerge from the tall spear grass. That one, he’s feeling no-good sorry way. She bin look after him, but really wants a holiday. Her, she’s been here forever. That one, he’s run away from payback, waiting for the mob to forget. And her, she’s causing trouble …

Take a trip to the Top End and discover what it means to live “Long Grass” – the term for Aboriginal people perceived as being homeless and on the fringes, yet living right in the middle of the city. Can such concepts as honour, courage and solidarity exist outside the trappings of a formal postcode?

Indigenous choreographer Vicki Van Hout’s powerful new dance theatre work combines weaving, shadow play, text and sparse video, with an idiosyncratic dance language, to find warmth, humour and play in a community at the edge.

Full length video available on request – contact us. A showreel will be uploaded here shortly.

Photos by Heidrun Löhr except final image by Lucy Parakhina

Sydney Festival, Jan 14 – 18, 2015
Dance Massive (Arts House), March 10 – 14, 2015

Creative Team

Choreographer Vicki Van Hout
Creative Collaborator, Cultural Consultant & Voice Gary Lang
Sound Design Phil Downing
Lighting Design Clytie Smith
Dancers Katina Olsen, Taree Sansbury, Caleena Sansbury, Thomas E S Kelly, Darren Edwards

Artist Biographies

Download Long Grass info pack (PDF 1.6MB)


“The choreography is powerful and exhilarating, Van Hout demands a lot of her dancers and they certainly deliver; their movement articulate and expressive. The sound design, played live on stage, matches the dancers in its potent energy. The ensemble sequence depicting the build-up and intensity of the storm is a highlight, especially accompanied by the pounding score. Other highlights include some confronting duets: one uncompromisingly violent, another tragic. However, above all, there is warmth and humour. We get an idea of the sense of community that comes from living “long grass”. Lang makes a memorable contribution with his perfectly pitched voice-over, full of humour and insight.”

– Julia Cotton, Sydney Morning Herald. Full review

Van Hout is at once auteur and collaborator—her vision and choreography are exquisitely distinctive, her creations woven through collaboration… Long Grass is an important work, culturally, sociologically and aesthetically, revealing in observant detail the lives of the dispossessed with humour, bitterness and sadness.

Keith Gallasch, RealTime. Full review

All through the wet season and just into the dry everything magically grows, seemingly overnight. The ‘long grass’ can be two or three metres high. I remember driving through walls for more than an hour with nothing in sight other than this straw curtain in front of me. In April comes the violent powerful ‘knock’em’ storms that flatten the grass and clear the line of sight. Watching Long Grass I thought of Vicki Van Hout as an amazing ball of energy like these storms that come out of nowhere to energize, create and be gone again before you can blink.

– Djon Mundine OAM, RealTime. Full essay

Dark, challenging and thought provoking, this dynamic contemporary dance speaks out about a disturbing, confronting, and relevant subject matter.

– Lynne Lancaster, Arts Hub Full review

Production Notes

Venue:  Studio theatres ideal, but will suit intimate proscenium theatres
Stage:  Minimum 12m W x 9m D, 6m H to grid
Technical: Contact us for full technical specifications.
Company: 11: Choreographer, 5 Dancers, Sound Artist, Vocal Performer, Company/Stage Manager, Production Manager, Lighting Operator.


Long Grass is produced by Performance Space with Intimate Spectacle. Developments in Darwin were hosted by the Darwin Entertainment Centre.

The development of Long Grass has been supported by Critical Path, the Australia Council for the Arts, and the University of Sydney’s Department of Performance Studies.  The Dance Massive season is supported by City of Melbourne, through Arts House.

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