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First Nations 

Celebrating the richness of the world's oldest living cultures

Our First Nations program presents local, national and international artists from across the globe. Their works span contemporary issues, re-tell forgotten stories and revitalise ancient cultural practices across music, dance, film and theatre. The program embeds First Nations' dance, music and theatre works across all Sydney Opera House program areas and showcases artists and performers from all art forms and disciplines. Hallmark events include Dance Rites and NAIDOC celebrations.

 

"We reconnected kids back to their mobs and families... the transformation is just amazing - it's given these young fellas and young women their identity back."

Leanne Ruska, Nunukul Yuggera (Winners Dance Rites 2018)

Coming Up

Dance Rites winners Nunukul Yuggera performing in 2018

Dance Rites 2019

Dance Rites provides a contemporary and competitive forum for performance by communities from a diverse range of traditions. Initially an annual event (from 2015-2017) and a highlight of the Homeground program, Dance Rites has graduated to become the major celebratory event within the First Nations program. Dance Rites aims to safeguard and revitalise vanishing cultural practices – language, dance, skin markings and instruments – to ensure they are shared from one generation to the next. 

Register to enter Dance Rites 2019 here. 

 

Celebrating First Nations: Dance Rites 2018

Press play to watch video

Natives Go Wild 

Sydney Opera House is proud to host the world premiere of Natives Go Wild, a provocative new First Nations cabaret that flips the lid on historical fiction and celebrates the global voice of First Nations people. This unmissable production, conceived and written by Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts AO, will shake up the Studio from 19 - 27 October 2019. 

Deadly Voices

Deadly Voices from the House presents revealing conversations with prominent First Nations thinkers from music, arts and culture. Hosted by Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts AO, the discussions explore the intersection of art and social change bringing insightful chat, laughs and general deadliness to a world-wide audience. Previous guests include AFL footy legend Adam Goodes and the Hon. Linda Burney MP.

Listen to Deadly Voices from the House on iTunes and Stitcher.

Past programming

Electric Fields at Homeground 2017 Image: Daniel Boud

Homeground

From 2015 - 2017,  Homeground continued the rich history of the land on which we stand, formerly known as Tubowgule, by bringing the best First Nations artists from Australia and the world to the Opera House for two big days of music, dance, workshops and markets. Celebrating the power of contemporary artists and ancient customs under the sun and stars, framed by the sails of the Opera House. 

In 2017, more than 25,000 people attended Homeground which was held on the Forecourt for the first time. The highlights included Yothu Yindi and the Treaty Project, Mau Power, Electric Fields, Airileke Ingram and Sorong Samarai, Irish Mythen, Tenzin Choegyal and dance artists Muggera, Rako Pasefika and Malu Kiai Mura Buai Dance troupe and for the first time the Winda Indigenous Short Film Festival. 

First Nations

Gudirr Gudirr

27 Jun 2018 - 30 Jun 2018

Fusing performance art, Indigenous dance, gymnastics and Malaysian martial arts, Gudirr Gudirr is a powerful and profoundly personal solo work by celebrated Australian dancer-choreographer, Dalisa Pigram. Get tickets for Gudirr Gudirr now.
Eye opening Inspiring Moving
First Nations

The Song Keepers in Concert

22 June 2018

This unique Central Australian ensemble sings sacred music in ancient and living indigenous languages together with new music through recent collaborations with other Central and international Choirs.
Made in Australia Bold Inspiring
First Nations

DOBBY & Tasman Keith

19 Sep 2018

Breakthrough Aussie rappers DOBBY & Tasman Keith bring their unique voices to the intimate Utzon room for a night of the message, the word and the fun. Joined by MC Hau Latukefu.
First Nations

Radical Son

12 Dec 2018

Effortlessly crossing genres from soul to hip-hop and beyond, Radical Son is a standout vocalist and songwriter like no other.
First Nations

Tia Gostelow

5 Jan 2019

Emerging indie artist Tia Gostelow performs in the intimate Utzon Room for a night of unforgettable music.
Contemporary Music

The Spirit of Churaki

27 May 2019

A one-night musical and cultural celebration of the pioneering Aboriginal surf lifesaver, brought to life by a diverse cast of extraordinary First Nations, Australian and international performers.

Backstage

Ghenoa Gela's powerful, political dance

The Torres Strait Mainlander breaks the stereotypes of dance.

A guide to Dance Rites

Your handbook for the song and dance of Australia's ancient cultures

Badu Gili's Frances Belle Parker

We talk to Frances Belle Parker, one of the five Badu Gili artists, about her work, her motivation and how she's used the Opera House’s sails as a blank canvas.

"There is no Aboriginal disadvantage"

Aboriginal culture can be part of Australia's shared strength, says SOH's head of First Nations Programming Rhoda Roberts.

Zaachariaha Fielding - It's A Long Story podcast

Crossing genres like soul, pop and electronica, Electric Fields has led Zaachariaha to massive stages all around Australia and the world, and in 2017 they scored Best New Talent at the NIMA Awards.

Listen to Deadly Voices from the House - Podcast

A podcast that takes intimate interviews with First Nations artists and leaders to the world. Hosted by Rhoda Roberts AO.

Rhoda Roberts AO, Head of First Nations Programming

A Widjabul woman, Rhoda Roberts is an experienced, motivated and versatile arts executive, with a diverse range of international and national industry practice within commercial, community and non-profit organisations. In 2016, she directed Songlines, the first Indigenous Lighting the Sails as part of VIVID Live and VIVID Sydney. The work of six Indigenous artists illuminated the Sails of the Opera House reaching a global audience of more than 8 million through a Facebook Livestream and on-going playback.

During NAIDOC week, 2017, Badu Gili, a daily Indigenous Lighting of the Sails at Sydney Opera House was finally realised by Roberts. The work provides a unique platform for First Nations artists from across Australia and the Torres Strait Islands to showcase diverse and ancient stories on the sails of the Opera House. The year-round nightly animation is a celebration of the world’s oldest living culture. 

Rhoda was the founder and Festival Director of the Dreaming Festival (1995-2009) and the Creative Director for the Awakening Segment Sydney Olympic Games 2000 Opening Ceremony and for Sydney New Year’s Eve 2009-2011 and is also currently Festival Director of the Boomerang Festival.

Rhoda has written, directed and produced several documentaries, and was the first Aboriginal to host a national prime time current affairs program. She was a co-founding member of Australia's first national Aboriginal theatre company, the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust (ANTT).

In June 2016, for her incomparable contribution in Australian cultural life, Rhoda was awarded the title of Officer (AO) in The General Division Of The Order Of Australia as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for her distinguished service to the performing arts through a range of leadership and advocacy roles in the development, promotion and presentation of contemporary Indigenous culture.

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