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Dance Rites 2017

Allkumo Malpa Paman Dancers 2016; Image credit: Joseph Mayers

Registrations for the Sydney Opera House’s groundbreaking national Indigenous dance competition Dance Rites are now open.

The third annual competition will be held at the Opera House on Sunday 26 November 2017.

Dance Rites aims to safeguard and revitalise vanishing cultural practices – language, dance, skin markings and instruments – to ensure they are shared from one generation to the next.

Dance groups from around Australia – many spanning several generations – are expected to join the high-profile event competing  for a winner’s prize of $20,000.

Dance Rites is the community highlight of the Opera House’s annual celebration of First Nations music, art and culture, Homeground.

More than 180 participants from 12 communities participated in 2016’s Dance Rites competition, culminating in a stunning final watched by a capacity crowd, which can now be experienced in a compelling virtual reality clip Dance Rites 360.

Transporting audiences to the very heart of Dance Rites 2016, the clip was produced in partnership by the Sydney Opera House and SBS Digital Creative Labs and is free to watch by downloading the SBS VR app.

Sydney Opera House Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts AO, says: “Dance Rites invites audiences to engage with language, dance, skin markings and traditions of diverse First Nations cultures. By engaging with culture, we preserve and celebrate it – but the experience isn’t just about the audience – participants reconnect and reclaim their personal histories through dance as well as build connection in their communities.”

John-Paul Marin, Manager, SBS Digital Creative Labs, says: “Virtual reality and 360° storytelling provides new opportunities to engage with audiences, immersing them in other worlds and visual stories that drive an emotional connection through shared experience.”

The standard of performance in 2016 was incredibly high.

Koomurri – a dance group made up of members from the Yuin, Bundjalung and Gamilaroi Nations – was declared the winners after a hard-fought competition, receiving a $20,000 prize and the opportunity to perform at Homeground 2017.

The second prize of $5,000 was won by Nupitjii Nupitjii of Cowra (Wirajduri and Gomeroi Nations), and a Wildcard prize of $3000 went to ALLKUMO Malpa Paman from the Cape York area (Kaantju/Ayapathu Nations).

Koomurri demonstrated their commitment to the ethos of Dance Rites by sharing a part of their prize money with the fourth and fifth placed groups, the Djaadjawan Dancers of La Perouse (Eora and Yuin Nations) and Mayi Wunba from Far North QLD (Djabugay & Walpara clan groups).

During the 2017 registration period, Rhoda Roberts AO and Sydney Opera House First Nations Associate Producer, Travis De Vries will travel to remote, rural and regional areas in Northern Territory and South Australia to work with individuals, community groups, Aboriginal Land Councils and local councils to engage participants and local communities.

Dance Rites is inspired by the highly successful Pow Wow Circuit in North America and Kapa Haka Festival in New Zealand.

Source: Sydney Opera House

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