Billy Missi honoured by Tanya Snelling 15 August 2013
ne of Cairns’ most loved artists will be remembered when Baiwa Dance Company’s production of Warupaw Uu | Echo of Drums makes its Cairns premiere at the Centre of Contemporary Arts (CoCA) on August 16-17. For Baiwa founder and director Rita Pryce paying tribute to Billy Missi meant a lot to her and her people from the Torres Strait. Missi was one of the region’s most acclaimed Indigenous artists whose artwork has been exhibiting successfully in the region, nationally and held in prestigious international collections around the world. His artwork features prominently throughout the one-hour performance “This show is inspired by, and dedicated to my late Uncle - Ephraim Bani, but these particular performances are in memory of Billy Missi, who had been heavily involved in CIAF before passing away in December 2012.” “He was a big supporter of Baiwa and would always be there to give advice and share his knowledge of Torres Strait Island culture. “He was a hardworking quiet achiever with a humble personality. We
Cleopatra Pryce - Warupaw Uu. Image supplied
want people to remember that about him and give him the recognition that he so deserves.” This occasion is a special one for Billy’s nephew, dancer - Patrick Vandenbroek and Billy’s older sister - Peggy Misi, who is one of Baiwa’s lead dancers. Warupaw Uu has been described as a stunning exploration of the Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to nature, and their respect for its purposeful and powerful presence. It celebrates the rituals and stories that surround the changing of the seasons, which are uniquely governed by the winds Naigai, Zei, Sager and Kuki. Of special significance is the involvement of Ahdi Dimple Bani eldest son of the late Ephraim Bani. He will travel from Thursday Island to join Baiwa and witness Warupaw Uu come to life in a theatre, after providing guidance to them from the initial development stages up until its mainland
premiere. “We will open on Friday night as part of CIAF Presents and then on Saturday, come join in the celebration – Island style. Island and Murri mob are going to pack the house so better book early, - all are welcome,” Pryce adds. Described as a highlight of the Dreaming Festival and the Cairns
Indigenous Art Fair, audience members declared “Echo of Drums both beautiful & powerful, it left me in tears” and “an emotional journey of family, history, culture”. Pre-show entertainment on Saturday night is by local musician and grandson of the late Ephraim Bani - Danny Bani, also known as ‘Danny Boy’ whose smooth R‘n’B sound is fast earning a name for the young artist who at 21 recorded his first album this year. For more information or to book your tickets, visit www.facebook. com/artscairns or www. artscairns.com.au.
Arthur Gisu and George Dow. Image: Anja Ali-Haapala