WHEN Indigenous performer Elwyn Henaway and his troupe step on stage, they do more than simply entertain.
The Doongalla Dancers, led by Henaway, use dance, music and storytelling to help young Indigenous people learn about their heritage.
Originally born on Thursday Island and now raising his family in Brisbane, Henaway said there is a big need among the younger generations to connect with their culture.
“We get a lot of young people up to 12, 13, 14 and then they kind of wander away and come back when they’re men. I guess they do their own identity searching at that stage.”
“But so long as we’ve given them some good base knowledge on our ways, our lores … hopefully that helps them in their everyday life.”
Doongalla Dancers is open to all ages and rehearsals often swell to 50 people.
Henaway’s daughter Ruby, 12, has been dancing “since she was in nappies” according to her dad and said she particularly liked performing in front of people her own age.
“I enjoy it because it’s fun and we can show people what we do, how we perform, how we act,” Ruby said.
Fellow Doongalla Dancer Fred Leone said he believed performing for the general public played an important part in breaking down barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“I think for the wider community, it demystifies our culture,” Fred said.
“Our story is your story, your story is our story. We want anybody who’s non-Indigenous to be just as proud of Aboriginal culture and dance and language, as us.
“Everybody’s now part of the dreaming in this country and it’s important for people to have that knowledge and not think of it as separate to them.”
Celebrations of Indigenous musical culture continues over at the State Library of Queensland, with the current Deadly Brothers exhibition profiling five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians influential in the Australian music scene.
The collection of music, memorabilia, interviews and artists’ personal items showcases well-known Indigenous artists Harold Blair, Mop and the Dropouts, Black Image, Classik Nawu and The Medics.
Deadly Brothers can be seen at the State Library of Queensland until September 15.
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