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A guide to Dance Rites

Six groups from the corners of Australia from Homeground last year

Sydney Opera House

Dance Rites is on again this year. Registrations are now open. Apply here.

Last year at Homeground, over 300 dancers and 18 groups entered Dance Rites, Australia’s national Indigenous dance competition which aims to ensure important cultural knowledge including language, dance, skin markings, and instruments is shared from one generation to the next.

Here are six groups from across Australia to get familiar with before the weekend.

Djirri Djirri

Central Kulin nation, Wurundjeri clan group – Melbourne, VIC

Spanning generations, Djirri Djirri’s dances honour spirituality, ancestors, country, wildlife and family. For young Wurundjeri women, they learn leadership through these songs and dance. They sing in Woiwurrung, a language which has no living speakers left.


Mayi Wunba Dancers

Djabugay & Walpara clan groups – Machans Beach, QLD

From Cairns, far north Queensland, the representatives of the Djabugay Nation call the rainforests of the Kuranda region their home. With grass belts, spears and shields, their performance at Homeground will be their first appearance together outside of Queensland.


Madhu Yinaa

Wiradjuri Nation – Wentworth Falls, NSW

With young women from the Wiradjuri, Darug, Gamilaroi, Ngunnawal and Dharawal groups, they represent Cowra, the Blue Mountains and Western Sydney. Since 2007 they’ve lent their talents and teaching to students and amateur dancers at NAISDA Dance College, Arts OutWest and the Wagana Dancers. For Dance Rites, they’ve worked with Darug Song Woman Jacinta Tobin and Darug Elder Corina Marino.


Djaadjawan Dancers

Yuin Nation – Dalmeny, NSW

Finalists in the 2015 Dance Rites at Homeground, the all-female group stretches across Yuin women from the far South Coast of NSW. Costumes are made from resources gathered from nature – gumnuts, shells and feathers with twine woven from the Stringbark tree. They sing in Dhurga language, which lead dancer Sharon Mason says makes them feel connected to country.



Worrora, Wunambul and Ngarinyin language groups – West Kimberley, WA

Mowanjum perform in three language groups: the Worrora, Wunambul, and Ngarinyin. Across cave sites in the West Kimberly, they are custodians to the Wandjina figures – cloud and rain spirits that are painted on the rock walls, and famously projected on the Opera House sails at Vivid LIVE last year.


Allukmo Malpa Paman

Kaantju/Ayapathu clan group – Coen, QLD

Six clans from the Cape York Peninsula make up ALLKUMO—an acronym of each group’s name. Each clan has their own dances, and ALLKUMO gives them the creative freedom to explore their cultures. The women craft costumes from traditional materials—skirts made from the fronds of a cabbage palm, dyed using the root of the yellow dye tree, and grass-woven headbands and armbands.

Homeground is  on this weekend, Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 November. See the rest of the program here. 

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