Here at Bundarra we talk a lot about what a powerful medium art is in terms of sharing Indigenous stories, knowledge and culture. This is of course because artwork is at the centre of what we do, however today we want to talk about another amazing storytelling practice, dance.
For First Nations people dance has always been an important part of their culture. It features in all events and ceremonies, without any written language dance was one of key ways of passing stories about land, animals, hunting, survival and the dreamtime down through the generations. Often dances include imitations of certain animals to assist in the storytelling. It was traditionally a part of weddings, funerals, initiations and spiritual ceremonies. Some ceremonies were gender specific with men and women having separate dances to perform. Members of the community who were highly skilled at dancing and singing are well respected, these were viewed as very important skills.
Many communities continue these traditions and use dance as an important part of celebrations. An example of this is Laura Dance Festival, the largest celebration of Indigenous culture in Australia. Dancers from 20 different communities come together to celebrate stories and culture through dance. Indigenous dance traditions and storytelling are also being continued in a modern way. In the 20th century contemporary Indigenous dance companies have begun to emerge, the most prominent ones being Bangara Dance Theatre and Decendance. These companies blend traditional dances and contemporary movements to create incredible performances. Bangara focusses on authentic storytelling through creating unique and deeply moving performances. They are well known nationally and internationally for their powerful dancing, outstanding technique and incredible use of soundscapes, set design and costume design.
We highly recommend attending Laura Dance Festival and seeing Bangara Dance Theatre perform and least once in your lifetime. They are both experiences you will never forget. The next Laura Festival dates were recently announced, it will be taking place on the 3rd ,4th and 5th of July 202 and you have to keep your eyes peeled for Bangara’s SandSong Tour which will be taking place sometime in 2021.