A self-proclaimed jack of all trades but master of none, Luke Currie-Richardson embodies strength and resilience. Whether on the basketball court, the dancefloor or with camera in hand, Currie-Richardson moves with a sense of pride that is magnetic.
A proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man, Currie-Richardson is living an independent lifestyle, pursuing work that fuels his passion first and his wallet second.
“I went down to Melbourne to talk about what I do for a living, it was right up to the moment before I went on, I was talking to the lady who arranged it and I was like I don’t know how to explain it,” he laughed.
“I may not know what I do for a living but I know why I wake up in the morning and that is probably the best way to explain it … it’s my people, it’s cultural knowledge, it’s wanting to change the minds of people who hold those negative stereotypes.”
Never staying still for too long, Currie-Richardson was born in Cairns, attended primary school in Brisbane and high school in Canberra – where his family remains.
Growing up playing basketball with his cousin, NBA champion Patty Mills, Currie-Richardson was pulled onto another path by another cousin, Jacqueline Cornforth.
The pair studied at NAISDA Dance College and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) together.
Setting the goal to dance for Bangarra Dance Theatre from day dot, Currie-Richardson was offered a traineeship by Bangarra director, Stephen Page, in his third year of study at QUT.
Living his dream, he danced with Bangarra from 2012 to 2018, performing sold-out shows in Paris, Berlin, Istanbul and New York and travelling to remote and regional communities within Australia.
However, during his last two years on-board, he struggled with mental health.
“I remember walking home one night after a performance crying, from the Opera House to Darlinghurst. There’s a crossing bridge … I remember thinking if I jump off this bridge, I will injure myself severely, I wouldn’t have to perform the rest of the year. I won’t die, I won’t take my life, but this is enough to break an ankle or shatter my leg.
“And my crying turned into a little bit of laughter, thinking what the hell, are we really at this point right now? Seven years ago, I was living the dream and now you want to jump off a bridge to stop dancing?
“I got home and woke up the next day with a new mindset, that whatever happens here, and however people treat me, that is them, I can’t control that but I can control how I react.”
Seeking help, Currie-Richardson found his feet.
Now setting roots in Sydney with his partner, Currie-Richardson performed with Muggera at Dance Rites.
“It’s one of probably two weekends … where I don’t feel like a minority. I’m surrounded by black people, I can speak lingo without any questioning, I can tell black jokes, and those spaces are important.”
“When I dance traditionally, I feel like I am my ancestors. People have said I dance with such intensity, that is the energy that I need to be dancing with. There was a time in modern history where our people weren’t allowed to practice culture, so I’m not going to go out there and half-arse these dances, I’m going to make sure I’m heard and seen, for black and white people.
“And I think that is part of my [intensity], when I step out of my door day in day out, everyone will see that a black man is walking down the street of Sydney.”
Despite wearing his identity proudly, Currie-Richardson experiences lateral violence.
“I had someone that I’d never met before say to someone else that I am a concrete Koori … it is interesting mob use how our downfall, our displacement against each other. I thought, you don’t know anything about me, I’m not a Koori, I’m a Murri. But how do you use colonisation and displacement as something against a fellow blackfulla?
“I don’t care what a lot of people think about me, but I care a lot about lateral violence because it is just doing further damage. At times our people can be our own worst enemies and we are here fighting the system whether through protest or in government or with art, we are all trying to fight and now we have to deal with this as well.
“In the end, we are all kind of lost in our own ways, whether we are on Country or not. Whether you’re a country fella or city fella we all have that grass is greener on the other side feeling.”
Pumping his Instagram with incredible content, Currie-Richardson is quickly becoming an inspiring public figure.
“For me, it’s about documenting and creating as much as possible so people will remember we are here, we are not going anywhere. The struggle that we go through, the highs we go through … giving that perspective of a modern, contemporary Indigenous man in the big city.”
“The city and the society weren’t made for us, it wasn’t made to accommodate us. It didn’t have us in mind when it was built, built upon our cities. I think the trick is juggling the contemporary with traditional.”
With the year closing the decade, Currie-Richardson is setting goals for the coming years. Creating a web of connection across the country through his social media and raising his voice to educate and inspire.
“There’s a saying going around … it’s not my job to education ignorant – but if you’re not educating then who is?
“If we aren’t educating, then the school system is educating and we already know that that’s not working. It’s the blind leading the blind in a sense, so it’s on us to educate.
“If I change one person’s mind that’s okay, because it is generational.”
For content created by Luke Currie-Richardson, visit his Instagram here: www.instagram.com/balaluke.
By Rachael Knowles