Dinawan’s Connection: Weaving Stories Through Dance at DanceRites 2023.
Steven Taylor, a proud Ngemba/Wailwan man, finds immense joy in sharing the world’s oldest living continuous culture through the art of dance. As the founder of Dinawan’s Connection, Taylor is eagerly anticipating the upcoming DanceRites 2023 competition at the iconic Sydney Opera House.
DanceRites stands as Australia’s singular national competition dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance, offering participants a chance to showcase their rich cultural heritage over two eventful days and compete for prizes totaling $36,000.
“For us, dance is a way to pay respect to country, animals, and ancestral stories, ensuring the continuation of these narratives while illuminating the beauty of our culture,” expressed Mr. Taylor.
Established in 2015 in the New South Wales town of Cowra, Dinawan’s Connection was born out of community enthusiasm following a 2015 Corroboree in Cowra. “After the Corroboree, the community asked us to teach local kids dance, and it has just grown from there,” shared Mr. Taylor.
The dance group, co-founded by cultural dancers Warren Williams and William Ingram, has since expanded its presence to Albury-Wodonga, Dubbo, Orange, and Cowra. The group’s name holds profound significance, connecting to the First Nations creator spirit Baiame, visible in the sky, and the Wiradjuri word “Dinawan,” meaning emu.
“The male emu raises the chicks and teaches them everything they need to know before they go out into the wide world,” explained Mr. Taylor. Dinawan’s Connection embodies this spirit, exemplifying the role of men leading and guiding children in acquiring essential knowledge.
The dance competition at DanceRites involves each group presenting a cultural dance and song cycle, reflecting their local storytelling and language. Many groups also perform an optional wildcard dance, showcasing their unique style and creativity.
DanceRites 2023 will bring together over 350 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers from across Australia, transforming the Sydney Opera House forecourt into a mesmerizing dance ground. The event is open to the public, with heats scheduled for Saturday and finals on Sunday, providing a platform for communities to celebrate and share the richness of their traditions.
As Dinawan’s Connection takes the stage, they not only dance for the competition but also for the empowerment of local kids and the broader community. Through each rhythmic movement, they weave a vibrant tapestry of cultural stories, ensuring that the ancient traditions continue to thrive and resonate with audiences both near and far.
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