Malandarri Festival 2016





About the poster

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that photographs and video footage may contain images of deceased persons.

In 2016 Borroloola launched the inaugural Malandarri Festival. Following Artback NT’s four-year engagement with the community, DanceSite transitioned to a new festival model, one that would be community owned and driven.

The community managed and delivered the event with limited administrative and programming support from Artback NT. The Malandarri Festival invited dance groups to join the community and celebrate traditional dance from across the Gulf country.

Wandangula, a small outstation community approximately 20 kilometres outside of Borroloola worked on creating a new dance about a significant issue for the Elders and the community. The dance was about current fracking policies and associated activity taking place across the Northern Territory and beyond.

Wandangula women and girls performing, Malandarri Festival, 2016. Photographer: Benjamin Warlngundu Baylis

A Torres Straight Island dance group based in Darwin were invited as the headline act to share their songs, stories and dances. Yellow Kokawam (hibiscus), a traditional family dance group from Murray Island, performed over both evenings showcasing their culture with singing, drums and dancing. The crowd loved their bright island costuming along with the children some as young as three who performed with such confidence and pride.

Yellow Kokowam men and boys performing, Malandarri Festival, 2016. Photographer: Benjamin Warlngundu Bayliss

Festival organisers were cautious about programming bands to perform as two years’ prior there had been a negative experience due to alcohol consumption. Initially deciding against increasing the music content, Borroloola’s original rock band, The Malandarri Band, who had not performed in over 20 years, changed that. It was decided band performances could take place at the end of each night so as not to compromise the focus of the festival which was traditional dance. The Malandarri Band and The Sandridge Band played to audiences young and old and got everyone dancing and truly enjoying the coming together of community.

‘Ngabaya’, The Sandridge Band, Malandarri Festival 2016. Video: Numbulwar Culture & Media

Poster image

Scotty McDinny performing at DanceSite in 2015, Borroloola. Photographer: Benjamin Warlngundu Bayliss