Dancing proud and strong: Twofold NAIDOC celebrations

"Keen on culture": Jaanda dancers wait to perform the opening ceremony at Twofold Bay NAIDOC celebrations. Photo: Rachel Mounsey
"Keen on culture": Jaanda dancers wait to perform the opening ceremony at Twofold Bay NAIDOC celebrations. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

"Hold your head high, stand proud and stand strong," were the words dance leader Nathan Lygon said to the Jaanda dance troupe just moments before they stepped out in front of the large awaiting crowd at Twofold Aboriginal Corporation's NAIDOC celebrations on Tuesday.

With a strong blow of the didgeridoo, the ochre painted dancers took their place in front of the audience consisting of elders, families and community members. Being the opening act didn't seem to daunt any of the young dancers whose movements were fluid and full of pride.

"Pride is exactly what they feel, they are at the forefront of the next generation of an ancient culture and that pride is a motivator - it moves within them," Nathan said.

Future role models: (from left) Matari Aldridge, Natasha Hayes, Kiah Cruse, Natalie Richards, Kayne Woods. Photos: Rachel Mounsey

Future role models: (from left) Matari Aldridge, Natasha Hayes, Kiah Cruse, Natalie Richards, Kayne Woods. Photos: Rachel Mounsey

Earlier when the kids were getting "ochred" up and ready for their appearance, one of the younger members asked if she could keep her plaited Aboriginal flag-coloured headband on all day. When asked why; she answered: "because I don't want to take it off."

"I'm stoked to see kids being so keen on culture," Nathan said.

"A lot has changed, the kids don't have the same shame barrier that previous generations have experienced."

No pre jitters here: Dancers Natasha Hayes, Alexia Richards and Kayne Woods ready to impress the crowd. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

No pre jitters here: Dancers Natasha Hayes, Alexia Richards and Kayne Woods ready to impress the crowd. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

As the kids danced in the circle, mimicking native animals, seated elders followed their movements, a blanket of quiet respect falling over the crowd. The rhythmic tap of Nathan's clap sticks were the only sounds to be heard.

"Many of the elders wouldn't have had the opportunity to dance or express themselves like these kids do. I can imagine how wonderful it must feel for them to see their grandkids doing something so special."

Jaanda's welcoming dance set the scene for a celebratory day all round.

After the Twofold boys raised the flag and the NAIDOC cake was ceremoniously cut by elders Aunty Wilma Maton, Aunty Carol Cruse and Aunty Shirley Aldridge, people began to settle in for a lunch of fresh barbecued abalone and other specially cooked goodies.

As this journalist was getting ready to leave, wordsmith Meaghan Holt was reading out excerpts from her poetry.

"Old people's ways are incredible ways...resilience lives on...I rise...they rise...we rise."

While taking off and winding down the car window, local teenage songstress Nikea Hayes was singing - the day was only just beginning and there's so much of which to be proud and celebrate.

This story Dancing proud and strong: Twofold NAIDOC celebrations first appeared on Magnet.

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