The Ngadju dance troupe, in operation since 1996, are looking to expand their reach into the South West, with plans to visit schools and organisations in Albany and Bunbury.
The group of Aboriginal dancers that deliver performances, dance classes and cultural teaching have most recently visited Kambalda West District High School, O’Connor Primary School, and North Kalgoorlie Primary School.
Troupe’s leader James Shultz said more than 130,000 students have seen them perform at more than 170 schools across Australia so far and the group is looking to broaden their impact even more.
“We got really good feedback on the performance we did at North Kal Primary on Monday. They really loved it — the staff and kids,” he said.
“I gave a spear-throwing exhibition where I show the kids how we would traditionally use spears. They love it. The kids don’t want to leave — they just keep lining up for more.
“The students are always like ‘wow these guys are really direct from the bush.’ We get told weeks after we’ve been in a school that the kids are still hopping like kangaroos in the playground.”
Mr Shultz told the Kalgoorlie Miner he believed the group’s performances were important for the continuation of Aboriginal culture.
“They say our culture ranges between 40,000 to 60,000 years old and even 150,000 in some areas. I want to see it going on for another 40,000 years so I continue to teach it,” he said.
“The students we connect with are going to grow up and be leaders in the community one day so to instil this knowledge and understanding at a young age hopefully means they will take that into those roles.”
The group not only does dance performances and tells Dreamtime stories, but can also undertake a suite of rotation activities including headband making, artefact presentations, traditional dance teaching, spear throwing, and damper and kangaroo meat tasting.
“Majority of the time we go in and do the one-hour dance performance. At the moment that is what we have been doing because of COVID,” Mr Schultz said.
“That is an easier option of schools right now. Things have been hard with COVID but we can still tell Dreamtime stories and give a presentation on reconciliation.
“I also deliver cultural awareness packages to workplaces. I have delivered the program most recently to Horizon Power. I am looking to do more work in that area.
“We try to promote harmony — embrace all cultures and break down barriers, you know, knock a few walls down.”