Dance Rites Competition Reinvigorates Australian Indigenous Custodianship
Words by Rachel Trevarthen, feature image photo by Dan Boud.
The First Peoples of this nation are facing a time like no other. The passing of our cultural custodians, lore men and women, means ancient degrees of knowledge are slipping away.
Dance Rites, Australia’s national Indigenous dance competition contrasts this trend by constructing unique stories, woven through dance, that add to the very fabric of our cultural wealth.
Dance Rites invites a gathering of dance groups from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the nation to compete for the winning prize of $15, 000 and a runner-up prize of $5,000.
Each participating group presents a “Welcome” celebratory dance, a “Farewell” dance and a wild card piece.
“This is about the long-term outcomes and from varying discussions with community members, will (among other things) allow reclamation of traditional chants and enable more appropriate calls during the welcome to country events,” says Rhoda Roberts, head of Indigenous Programming at Sydney Opera House.
Rhoda says that the groundswell of creative work coming forth from Aboriginal and/or First People’s perspectives retains language, revitalises ritual and redefines the myth of ‘our lost cultures.’
“It’s exciting and edgy to see the fusion of our traditional dance, maintenance of our mother tongues, first instruments and song practices combined with Western creative techniques and media.”
Dance Rites has a long-term desire to continue inter-generational transmission of knowledge and customs by adopting a ‘whole of community’ approach across Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal sectors.
As a healing and well-being project, it seeks to stimulate and invite active dialogue within and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities from rural, remote and urban areas.
“Our creative practices have enabled Indigenous arts workers across all genres a relevant voice, better employment prospects and most importantly control of how we are perceived,” says Rhoda.
To be a part of the magic, get along to see the dancers and artists in action on November 22 at the Opera House’s Western Boardwalk.
For more information click here.