Tubowgule Today

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House has been home to a range of programs over the years that celebrate First Nation dance and culture from Australia and around the world.

A Homeground
Long before there was a Bennelong Point or a Sydney Opera House, Tubowgule (‘meeting of the knowledge waters’) as it was known to the Eora people, was for thousands of years a special gathering place for important matters, celebration and performance.The Opera House - established according to its 1961 Act to not only promote excellence and achievement in the arts, but as a meeting place for matters of local, national and international importance - continues that tradition to this day, not least through a year-long program that celebrates the rich vitality of First Nations culture through dance, music and talks events. The highlight of that Indigenous program is Homeground, an immersive two-day annual festival that showcases the greatest Indigenous artists from across Australia and the globe. Homeground continues the tradition established by the Opera House’s pioneering Message Sticks festival, which included legendary performances such as 2012’s WANTOK: Sing Sing.

In November 2015, a new national Indigenous dance competition, Dance Rites, premiered as part Homeground. The brainchild of Rhoda Roberts, the Opera House’s Head of Indigenous Programming, Dance Rites aims to revitalise fast-vanishing Indigenous cultural leadership and practices – including language, dance, traditional instruments and skin markings – by creating a contemporary and competitive forum for performance by communities.

As Rhoda says: ‘All cultures keep their classics alive, but if things continue, in 30 years the songman and woman and their classic art form, and audience, will be entirely lost.”
More than 150 artists from 10 Indigenous communities performed remarkable work to a capacity crowd of more than 1200 people, who filled the Western Broadwalk and podium above for the Dance Rites Finals. The program also generated sustained media, reaching a cumulative audience of more than 1.8 million. The web series created to promote Dance Rites, 'White Fella Dreaming,' alone attracted more than 250,000 views.

Dance Rites is a particularly appropriate extension of the Opera House’s commitment to the promotion of First Nations arts and culture, as both the first major performing arts organisation to implement a Reconciliation Action Plan and the only one to have a Head of Indigenous programming.

White Fella Dreaming is a three-part web series created as part of the Sydney Opera House Indigenous Program.

Episode 1

Gary’s first day is off to a rough start – join him as he scopes the venue and shares his vision for Dance Rites, Sydney Opera House’s new Indigenous dance competition. Can Gary get over the performance not taking place in the Concert Hall? After all, surely he’s been brought on to bring the flair and pizazz to the event?

Episode 2

Undeterred by the restrictions on the venue, Gary takes his campaign to the hearts and minds of the marketing team. Will he inspire them to think outside the box? Or is his vision of all things glitter and jazz-hands missing the mark of what Dance Rites is all about?

Episode 3

Rehearsals are underway, but Gary struggles to connect and realise his vision with the dancers. Without the full force of glitter cannons, how will the show go on?

Coranderrk was a government reserve for Aboriginal people in the state of Victoria between 1863 and 1924, located 50 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.

ILBIJERRI Theatre Company was invited to perform Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country at the Playhouse Theatre in 2012 – a major milestone in the play’s journey. Four performances took place and a Q&A session was held with the cast, director Isaac Drandic and co-writer Giordano Nanni.

Honey Spot is a play about friendship and its power to bring worlds and cultures together. First staged in Western Australia in 1985 during the emerging movement for reconciliation between white Australia and Aboriginal people, it presents an optimistic, funny and moving story about the power of friendship to overcome racial differences and prejudices.

One of playwright and Indigenous rights campaigner Jack Davis's most celebrated theatrical works, Honey Spot, was given new life in 2012 by the highly acclaimed Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.

A young girl makes friends with the new boy at school. Peggy is a budding dancer and daughter of the local forest ranger. Tim lives in a forestry-owned house and dances to the rhythm of his cousin's didgeridoo. As their friendship grows, Tim agrees to help Peggy create a dance piece for the ballet scholarship competition – together, they blend the earthy feel of traditional Noongar dance with the fluid grace of classical ballet.

The Deadly Awards, also known simply as The Deadlys, are an annual celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement in music, sport, entertainment and community.

Credits: Story

Created by Sam Doust and the
Sydney Opera House GCI Team

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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