Aboriginal Dance Workshops in Broome

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Simon attended the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association Dance College in Sydney. His dance career started out with Modern Dreamtime Dancers before expanding internationally.

Marrugeku’s latest work, Jurrungu Ngan-ga – Straight Talk, seeks to break down walls and build bridges through candid dialogue with Australian society. The mesmerising multi-media production draws its inspiration from perspectives surrounding imprisonment.

1. Mabu Buru Tours

Broome may seem small at first glance, but its history and modern-day story are impressively profound. While visiting its beach is certainly impressive, learning more about Broome from another angle and engaging in its cultural activities makes for an unforgettable experience.

Mabu Buru Tours can help. As an Indigenous family-owned and operated business, this tour company specialises in giving visitors an authentic insight into the region’s traditional culture. From Crocodile Feeding Tours to Cultural Talks hosted by Johani himself, this team can tailor experiences that cater to any interest.

One of the company’s most impressive achievements is their work with young Indigenous people and dance workshops. This project is particularly vital given recent studies indicating Indigenous youth are at increased risk of poor mental health in Broome region and across Australia, and as such this workshop aims to create a safe space where these youngsters can discover more of their culture through music and dance.

Robert Dann is at the core of this project, driven by his values and passion. A local Indigenous tour guide and co-founder of Modern Dreamtime Dancers (which offers dance programs to Indigenous youth in Broome and beyond), Robert’s focus lies on providing a supportive and healthy environment where young people can discover more of their heritage through dance while building self-confidence.

Indigenous dance is becoming one of Australia’s premier art forms, yet still holds significance to land, people and ancient legend. That’s why Pigram, co-artistic director of intercultural dance theatre company Marrugeku is committed to keeping this tradition alive. Her work centers around confronting historical truths while seeking reconciliation; according to her, you either feed stereotypes or open people’s hearts and minds through dance theatre performances.

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2. Mowanjum Festival

This festival provides you with the perfect opportunity to discover more of Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre. Here you will gain insight into indigenous culture of Worrorra, Ngarinyin, and Wunambal tribes who live here, as well as visit an iconic Selsmark collection made by local women during the 1970s for dancing totems and costumes made into costumes. Additionally there are workshops and events taking place here throughout the year.

At the centre of Kimberley, visitors of all kinds are invited to explore Indigenous culture. Here you can gain a greater insight into its traditions such as didgeridoo playing, boab nut carving and ochre painting; plus there’s even an art gallery featuring work from some of Kimberley’s leading artists!

The Mowanjum Community Education Centre is a non-profit organisation run by members of the local Mowanjum community. Additionally, they host several educational events every year that promote understanding of indigenous culture while providing training on cultural practices for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals.

Every year, the Mowanjum Festival brings to light the rich cultural traditions held by Western Australia’s Ngarinyin, Worrorra, and Wunambal peoples. Hosted at Derby’s Mowanjum Art and Cultural Centre, this one-night event provides an amazing way to discover this distinct part of Australia’s heritage.

Mowanjum community hosts an evening Wakaj (social gathering of story, song and dance). Following this will be corroboree and Junba (traditional song and dance). Junba plays an essential part of community pride building and sharing knowledge across generations from elder to young.

Mowanjum Festival brings community members together for a night of song and dance each July at Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre in Derby. Beginning at 2pm, this smoke and alcohol free event includes workshops, an open gallery exhibit, corroboree entertainment before finishing up at 6pm with fireworks over Derby Lake.

3. Shinju Matsuri Festival

The Shinju Matsuri Festival, or Broome’s Festival of Pearls, is a major annual celebration of its heritage and history. Started in 1970, it has since expanded into an incredible program of events that appeals to all senses – sight, sound and taste! An absolute must for visiting grey nomads!

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Broome stands out among Australian towns as an incredible hub of multiculturalism, thanks to the pearl industry attracting Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Koepangers, Filipino and European people from different cultural backgrounds to join local Aboriginal people for an harmonious mix that forms part of its unique character – something celebrated annually during Shinju Matsuri festival.

Yesterday evening was the annual Festival Finale held at Cable Beach Amphitheatre. Over 1000 guests attended for free; with thousands being drawn by its orange sunset backdrop to enjoy fireworks displays and an electric music performance by Archie Roach of Pigram Brothers (an Order of Australia Medal recipient) before Sammy the Dragon made a brief appearance before retiring back into his sleepy state.

At Shinju’s event, it is truly special to witness an impressive parade featuring over one hundred floats representing all of the various cultures present within this diverse community. Locals love celebrating this event as it allows them to come together as one community to embrace each culture’s contribution and celebrate diversity together.

Apart from the float parade, other aspects of the Festival Opening Ceremony and Art Awards also took place this year. Entries into Art Awards proved impressive with two pieces by Luru Jarri Shoreline and Jeanne Browne being awarded first prize; also, Jody Loaring’s work, Seven Sisters by Luru Larri Shoreline won top honors in that competition.

Floating Lantern Matsuri is the spiritual high point of Shinju Festival. Every year, Sammy the Dragon wakes and lights all of the lanterns ceremonially before they are released into Gantheaume Point to bring good fortune and bring good luck for an annual release – this year a total of 7,332 lanterns were released – a new record! Unlike some events held in Western Australia that were affected by Covid-19, Shinju will run uninterrupted over its 10-day span this year.

4. Staircase to Moon

Staircase to Moon offers an engaging and empowering Aboriginal dance workshop in Broome that can inspire and empower. This engaging program, suitable for both experienced and novice dancers alike, gives participants an opportunity to discover more of Western Australia’s East Kimberley culture through contemporary Indigenous dance techniques taught by tutors from Bangarra Dance Theatre – with tutors leading participants through traditional and contemporary techniques before culminating in performing an original piece of choreography at the end of each workshop.

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Simon Stewart, a Contemporary Aboriginal Movement Teacher and Choreographer based out of Broome in Western Australia. A member of Koorie community with roots originating in Gooiyandi, Jaru Kija Turkey Creek and Ord River regions he also lectures full time at WAAPA on Aboriginal Performance while boasting professional experience working with Companies Lian Paris in Paris, Buzz Dance Theatre of Perth in Australia as well as Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company as well as OCHRE Contemporary Dance Company.

Simon is one of the founding members of Marrugeku Dance Theatre Company, an intercultural dance company dedicated to ensuring First Nations performance remains alive in our contemporary society. As co-artistic director for this intercultural dance company, he draws upon his Yawuru grandfather’s teachings about how Indigenous Australians can connect on a human level while challenging stereotypes associated with Australia’s past and its history.

Marrugeku’s commitment to engaging with remote communities and empowering young people extends far beyond creating original works for the stage. They currently run an access and participation program called Gibidem YourStyle!, which offers 15 to 23 year-olds professional instruction in culturally informed contemporary dance and music instruction.

If you are interested in participating in one of these exciting workshops, make sure you book your place by contacting the organization directly and finding their contact details on their website.