10,000 visitors flocked to the Western Broadwalk over the weekend to immerse themselves in the music, art and dance showcased at Homeground, the Sydney Opera House’s annual celebration of First Nations culture.
The national dance competition Dance Rites, hailed by ABC’s Lateline as “one of the nation’s most joyful and competitive Indigenous cultural events”, dazzled a capacity crowd in its second year.Koomurri, made up of members from the Yuin, Bundjalung and Gamilaroi Nations, were declared the winners after a hard-fought competition, receiving a $20,000 prize and the opportunity to perform at next year’s Homeground.
Over 180 dancers performed an arrival, farewell and ‘wildcard’ dance in the sand circle stage of theDance Rites competition, which aims to reignite vanishing cultural practices through sharing knowledge between generations and communities.
NSW Deputy Premier & Minister for the Arts Troy Grant says: “Sharing culture is vital to foster deeper connections in our community. I’m thrilled to see how Dance Rites has grown from one year to the next. Homeground is an exciting opportunity for people to come together from across the country in celebration.”
Elsewhere in the Homeground program. East Journey, the next generation of Australia’s most famous Aboriginal rock band, Yothu Yindi, wowed the crowd, while Airileke and the PNG Drummers brought the new sound of Melanesia to the Western Broadwalk with their incredible log drumming, Papuan chants and atmospheric sound-scapes along with the pride and independence of east Timor. Canadian First Nations Anishinaabe man Leonard Sumner is one of the newest voices in the Canadian roots scene and was a crowd highlight. The unforgettable Dubmarineperformed a pulsating, vibrant set that had the late-night audience moving.
The immersive Homeground program also included a popular Indigenous arts market, tours revealing Bennelong’s story, food demonstrations by Australia’s only ‘hatted’ Indigenous chef,Clayton Donovan, and interactive workshops for all ages.
The Sydney premiere of COLLISIONS, the groundbreaking virtual-reality film by Australian artist and filmmaker Lynette Wallworth, moved audiences with its intensity and immediacy. Wallworth and the subject of the film, Martu Elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan spoke to festival goers after they had their turn with the headset.
Opera House, Director of Performing Arts Tim Calnin says: “The Opera House is committed to celebrating the extraordinary richness of First Nations culture from around the world. We are pleased to announce that the Opera House Indigenous program will now be known as the First Nations program. This change reflects the continued work of Rhoda Roberts AO and her team to bring the very best of contemporary First Nations arts and culture from around the globe to the Opera House, both at Homeground, and throughout the year.”
Opera House, Head of First Nations Programming Rhoda Roberts AO says: “The crowd at Homeground showed that there is a huge appetite for First Nations culture that acknowleges history, but is uniquely relevant in 2016. Homeground has the capacity to unite us all and become a signature cultural event in Sydney.”
The weekend of experiences brought to life the age-old traditions of Bennelong Point, known to the Gadigal people as Tubowgule.
Alongside Vivid LIVE, All About Women, Festival of Dangerous Ideas and GRAPHIC,Homeground is a signature annual festival in the Opera House calendar.