The Ngadju Dance Troupe, in operation since 1996, is looking to expand its reach in the South West, with plans to visit schools and organizations in Albany and Bunbury.
The group of Aboriginal dancers who provide performances, dance lessons and cultural education recently visited Kambalda West District Secondary School, O’Connor Primary School and North Kalgoorlie Primary School.
Troupe leader James Shultz said more than 130,000 students had seen them perform at more than 170 schools across Australia so far and the band were looking to expand their impact even further.
“We had very good feedback on the performance we put in at North Kal Primary on Monday. They absolutely loved it – the staff and the kids,” he said.
“I gave a spear throwing exhibition where I show the children how we traditionally used spears. They adore him. The kids don’t want to leave – they keep queuing up for more.
“Students are always like ‘wow these guys are really straight from the bush.’ Weeks after we started school, we are told that the children are still jumping around like kangaroos in the playground.
Mr Shultz told the Kalgoorlie Miner he believed the band’s performances were important to the continuation of Aboriginal culture.
“They say our culture is between 40,000 and 60,000 years old and even 150,000 in some areas. I want to see it last for another 40,000 years, so I continue to teach it,” he said.
“The students we connect with will grow up to be leaders in the community one day, so instilling that knowledge and understanding at a young age hopefully means they take that into those roles.”
The group not only puts on dance performances and tells Dreamtime stories, but can also undertake a range of rotating activities, including headband making, artifact presentations, traditional dance teaching, throwing of lance and the tasting of meat of suffocator and kangaroo.
“Most days we come in and do the hour-long dance show. Right now that’s what we’re doing because of COVID,” Schultz said.
“It’s an easier option for schools right now. Things have been tough with COVID but we can still tell Dreamtime stories and do a presentation on reconciliation.
“I also deliver cultural awareness kits to workplaces. I delivered the program most recently to Horizon Power. I am looking to do more work in this area.
“We’re trying to promote harmony – embracing all cultures and breaking down barriers, you know, breaking down a few walls.”