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Discovering the Connection Between Culture and Dance at the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival 2017

June 7, 2017 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

“Our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe.” – Mudrooroo

For Tamara Pearson, the connection to country, the history of her ancestors, and the elements of her surroundings are what drive her passion as a dancer and choreographer.

A descendent of the Kuku Yalanji people from her paternal grandmother’s side and Bagarrmuguwarra on her paternal grandfather’s side, Tamara founded the Sacred Creations Dance Troupe: a traditional storytelling performance group with connections to Cape York, who celebrate their Aboriginal culture through music, song, dance and art.

“We have the blood of an ancient culture – The Dreaming,” said Tamara.

“Our body is our canvas, we dance to music with our ancestors, and the elements – earth, water, wind and fire – give us our strength.”

The Sacred Creations Dance Troupe’s routine style mirrors their surroundings, reminiscent of the rugged and unspoiled landscape of Cape York Peninsula, where shrubbery skirts the Coral Sea and low rolling mountains.

Hope Vale in Cape York, a remote Aboriginal community, is where Tamara’s dance flair was ignited from a young age.

“When I finished high school, I wanted to pursue a dance career, and I was accepted into the National Aboriginal and Islander Dance Association (NAISDA) in Sydney,” she said.

“I performed my first contemporary dance piece there in front of 10,000 people, which was called ‘Rainforest Dreaming,’ based on my grandmothers passing and return to her country after a long separation.”

Also a performer at TJAPUKAI Cultural Park in Cairns, Tamara is active in the Indigenous dance community and teaches traditional and hip hop styles to disadvantaged Indigenous children in the protection and foster care system, in regional centres around Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns

“These workshops help reinforce their cultural identity and connection to their homelands and families,” said Tamara.

“An important part of this is listening to the children’s stories, mentoring them and encouraging them to be proud of their culture.”

The Aboriginal history in the Cape York Peninsula is vibrant and diverse, dating back tens of thousands of years where 43 language groups existed, each with their own traditional practices.

In its 35th year, the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival (June 30-July 2) is a three-day biennial celebration of the region’s Indigenous culture, and known as a sacred meeting ground for local language groups to connect with family members, and more than 20 other communities.

More than 5,000 people flock to the small town of Laura, located 300 kilometres north of Cairns with a population of only 100 people, to witness the passing of culture across generations with around 500 performers.

Sacred Creations are excited to dance at the festival, with the Bama of Cape York and children they have workshopped with from Laura State School, for a second year.

“We are people of many nations, but at the Laura Dance Festival, we are united as one – Cape York,” said Tamara.

“We look forward to hearing the clap sticks echo through the bush, and the smell of the dust as everyone proudly expresses their culture.”

“Our message sticks are decorated with the wind whispering in the forests, the sacred waters which separate around us as we move, the fire that protects us, and the earth beneath that carries us home.”

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