Sydney Celebrates Aboriginal Culture
|by Christian Edwards
Sydney's connection to the aboriginal "dreaming" will be celebrated for the first time this year, in a new event that organizers hope will celebrate and inspire visitors from around the world and reconnect Australia's largest city with the meaning and power of indigenous Australian culture.
At a quiet launch on Thursday, rich in significance and symbolism, NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir joined the state Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, and the Corroboree Council of Elders at Mrs. Macquarie's Chair opposite the Sydney Opera House to introduce the official program for Corroboree Sydney, Australia's newest and most ambitious annual, national indigenous festival.
Taking place in the first breaths of Sydney's summer, between Nov.14-24, Corroboree Sydney will include a range of free and ticketed events held around Sydney's iconic Harbor foreshore, arts precinct and parks showcasing indigenous literature, visual arts, performing arts, live music, films, crafts and design. All celebrating the aboriginal connection to the land and its Dreamtime, or "Dreaming"
"Dreaming" has no equivalent in English, its merely an approximate translation of an Aboriginal concept, which attempts to describe the aboriginal connection to the spirit of the country.
Koori groups each have their own words for this concept: for example the Pitjantjatjara people use the term Tjukurpa, the Arrernte refer to it as Aldjerinya and the Adnyamathanha use the word Nguthuna.
Nine of Sydney's leading institutions with strong indigenous programs will contribute to the festivities, including the world leading Bangarra Dance Theater, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, State Library, Australian Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Opera House, Blackfella Films and Koori Radio.
Coined by the European settlers of Australia (from the aboriginal "caribberie"), a corroboree is a scared event enacted for invited guests, an event where the Australian aborigines commune with the ancient Dreamtime through dance, music and costume.
The corroboree itself is usually performed before an enthusiastic audience of men, women and children.
A group of adult men, seated around a small fire, will chant one or another of the ancient songs, while others, their bodies decorated with strange symbols, portrayals, in a series of spectacular dances, the incidents in the myth.
The celebration of this unique connection will see a parade of 1,000 school children through Sydney's city streets in celebration of local aboriginal culture, a special firelight ceremony and a range of activities at Corroboree Central based at Walsh Bay's historic Pier 2/3, including the Corroboree Black Arts Market, Corroboree Cinema and Corroboree Studio.
Minister Souris told Xinhua that his Government was proud to support Corroboree Sydney, "an event of considerable importance to indigenous communities both here in NSW and across Australia."
"Corroboree Sydney will showcase a diverse, vibrant program that will bring together activities, exhibitions and performances produced by some of our most significant indigenous artists and institutions," he said.
Entwining aboriginal culture within modern Australia and sharing its mystery and beauty is one of the objectives of Corroboree Sydney, an event that not only heightens awareness and appreciation of the key role aboriginal culture plays in the identity of Sydney, but will deliver about 21 million Australian dollars in direct economic benefits over the next three years.
An expected 55,000 interstate, intrastate and international visitors will travel cross the nation and farther afield to attend and take part, according to Destination New South Wales.
Speaking before community leaders and elders from the Sydney region, State Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello said diversity was at the heart of such a celebration.
"This event will help provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share their important and vibrant cultures with all Australians as well as visitors from overseas."
Celebrating the diversity and strength of Indigenous art and culture to the people of Sydney, NSW and beyond, Dominello described the contribution of aboriginal art and culture as a "crucial part of the social fabric of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia."
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