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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 5. 3rd April 1974

Raising the Spirits of the Dead

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Raising the Spirits of the Dead

There will be a unique concert in the Memorial Theatre this Monday, April 7, at 5.30pm and 8.15pm. The New Zealand Students' Arts Council is presenting the Aboriginal Dance Group. This group is on a Pacific tour, commencing in New Zealand and ending in Hawaii. The Wellington concerts will be the first of the tour. This group enthralled audiences at the South Pacific Festival of the Arts in Suva (1972) and recently at the opening of the Sydney Opera House. Their dancing is considered to be the most dynamic in the world

The tour is being sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Australian Council for the Arts. Through the Australian High Commission in New Zealand, the New Zealand Students' Arts Council has been asked to manage the concerts. Director Bruce Kirkland said he is pleased to present the group as a positive contribution to cultural enlightenment. "The Group are under the auspices of the Aboriginal Theatre Foundation in Darwin, which is a bona fide aboriginal body working for aboriginals," he said.

"Dance is at the very roots of their culture traditionally, and is also a contemporary medium for their current social situation. With this in mind, I can't see how we can ignore the statements that they have to make while in New Zealand. It is certainly not tourist brochure stuff."

The dancers come from two distinct cultural areas—the Yirrikala and Millingimbi in North-east Arnhem Land, and the Bamyili to the South. The southern group concentrate on the narrative approach while the northern aboriginals use a more stylistic method. They will present a cycle of dances about the Mukui (Spirits of the Dead).

The Group will be accompanied by a Didgeridoo and Clap-sticks (percussion). Intricate body painting is also a feature of their performances. Aboriginals rarely perform outside of Australia. The opportunity to see them should not be missed. Because of the demand for seats, students are recommended to book early at the DIC—special price of $1.60.

Image of two aboriginal people

Photo of an aboriginal person with body paint