As the sun set over the Cowaramup Amphitheatre on Saturday evening, a stunning display of local culture, dance, music and creativity drew the local community to Pioneer Park.
Live music from Simon King and Si&B had the audience buzzing early, before a spine-tingling soundscape created by Simon Walsh set the tone for the evening, the brainchild of co-directors and locals, Cara Ratajczak and Michelle Bretherton.
"The Cowara Bird Project is a story-telling contemporary dance performance engaging children in the local community to celebrate the local Wardandi Cowara bird story," the pair explained.
"The town of Cowaramup has been known to the local Wardandi people as the place of the Cowara, the purple crowned lorikeet, for thousands of years.
"This vibrant performance brought light to the story of the Cowara bird in a meaningful and creative way to broaden the community's connection to the essence of Cowaramup and its Wardandi history."
Working over several months, 38 children and 11 adults took part in choreography, puppet making, costumes, recording sounds/narration, and singing and dance workshops.
The group worked under the cultural guidance of Vivian Brockman Webb and Mitchella Hutchins, while choregrapher Janine Oxenham, sound designer Simon Walsh, artists Kylie & Chia Deltondo, puppeteer Sandy McKendrick and artist Cynamon Aeria also contributed.
"We are extremely grateful to Dwardinan, Vivian Brockman Webb and Waljin, Mitchella Hutchins for sharing and trusting us with their story.
"Watching the children completely immerse themselves in the performance and connect to the story of the Cowara was incredible.
"They really shone under the pressure of a booked out show. Their beaming faces at the end of the night said it all.
"This event could not have gone ahead without the many volunteers in our generous community, it means the world to us to feel supported."
The sellout show opened to the sound of birdsong, tapping sticks and the voices of children: "Kaya... Kaya... Kaya... this story is from Wardandi Boodja, the land of the salt water people. It comes from thousands of years ago when country was still dreaming."
The stage then came to life with kids in colourful costumes and props depicting the Ocean, Gilgi land spirit, Black hair and the Rainbow, followed by a special cave scene and ocean silk dance by adult performers, and a projected stop animation movie created by Kylie Deltondo and daughter Chia Desbaux.
A 4 metre glowing Cowara Bird Puppet flew through the trees, circling the audience in the last scenes of the show before children and adults returned to the stage for the final dance.
Ratajczak and Bretherton praised the extensive support from the community.
"This project was made possible by the Australian Government's Regional Arts Fund, which supports the arts in regional and remote Australia.
"We are also grateful to have received funding by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Lions Cowaramup and Cullens winery.
"Other organisations who have shown amazing support to our project include Cowaramup Primary School, Woven Cowaramup, Arts Margaret River, the Cowaramup Anglican church, Juniper Estate and The Candy Cow."