2018 Malandarri Festival

15 – 16 June, Borroloola Showgrounds

Artistic Report

The 2018 Malandarri Festival further embedded the community led aspect of the event with an increase in pre-festival workshops, greater lead in participation from local organisations and the engagement of local production crew in training and employment throughout the festival. Over two nights of performance and one day of market place activity the Festival was a vibrant celebration of arts and cultural practices with performances from local clans, visiting dance groups, bands, school choirs and international guests.

To Festival began with a moving tribute dance for the old people led by Isa McDinny, Jemima Miller and Dinah Norman – to acknowledge a number of significant losses in the months preceding the Festival. Traditional performances from Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Mara and Wandangula dance groups followed, with Gurdanji taking a rest year from performing at the Festival.

2018 special guests included Divas on Tour – an all-female NT Indigenous music showcase, visiting dance group Laginda Sandalwood dancers from Doomadgee, Indigenous Amis singer Suming Rupi from Taiwan. Local performers included Malandarri Band, The Sandridge Band,  Keinan Appleby, the Borroloola School Choir and the early Education program.

2017 Malandarri Festival

16 – 17 June, Borroloola Showgrounds 

Artistic Report

2017 saw five local dance groups perform at Malandarri Festival. Continuing on from last year’s practice, each clan group and their Elders supported one another with singing and dancing.  The first day was opened by the Mara clan who led a parade with Borroloola school students. This was to pay respects to Elders who had passed away from Gurdanji and Mara clans, and were key participants of the festival in previous years.

For this years festival, Elders had also invited a Bollywood Indian dance group to attend, reflecting the community’s desire to continue to collaborate with different cultural groups. ITDP Program Coordinator Fipe Preuss also shared her cultural dance practice, spending time with Borroloola School running movement workshops that focused on Polynesian storytelling. Fipe performed several forms of Polynesian dance including Hawaiian, Tahitian and Pasifika Fire dancing during the festival.

This year saw three bands perform as part of the programming. Malandarri Band, The Sandridge Band and High Tide Band presented a celebration in dance for everyone at the end of the festival, ensuring the focus of the festival: traditional dance, was not compromised.

2016 Malandarri Festival

21 and 22 October, Borroloola Showgrounds

Artistic Report

DanceSite returned to Borroloola with a new name! Now known as Malandarri Festival, this special community-based event celebrated both traditional and contemporary arts and cultural practices from the four clan groups living in Borroloola – the Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Gurdanji and Mara people.

Malandarri Festival is the product of a four year relationship established by Artback NT with the community of Borroloola. By building capacity and handing over as many skills as possible to the local community, the ITDP partnership ensures the Festival’s sustainability as the key arts and cultural event for Borroloola and the region.

This year’s festival featured music from the Malandarri Band who performed for the first time in 20 years, along with EllaRay, and The Sandridge Band. Traditional dance groups included Wandangula, Blind Mermaid Dancers, Ngardji Dancers, Yellow Kokowam (Murray Island), and Djuki Mala.

2015 DanceSite Festival

18 and 19 September, Borroloola Showgrounds

Artistic Report

This year’s DanceSite Festival saw the event consist of two full nights of traditional dance programming. Each local dance group performed over both nights, as well as visiting dance groups from Kununurra, WA and Ngukurr, NT – both performing at DanceSite for the first time. In addition, Artback NT presented The Kailani Dancers as the headline act, hailing from the small Pacific nation of Kiribati, who have also seen their traditional dance and cultural practices become critically endangered. Their performance wowed and invigorated the crowd, many of whom had never seen Pacific traditional dance performed live.

2014 DanceSite Festival

19 July, Borroloola Showgrounds

Over 100 traditional Indigenous performers from across the Gulf Region took part in this year’s festival, in front of an audience of over 1000 people. There were many very successful layers to this event; along with the solid foundation that was developed over the previous 15 months of delivering the program, DanceSite was able to engage with new community members and provide employment opportunities for over 120 local Borroloola residents. Performers included dancers from the four clan groups: Mara, Gurdanji, Ngardiji and Wandangula, along with visiting groups, the Red Flag Dancers and Sabai (Murray Island).

2013 DanceSite Festival

15 June, Borroloola Showgrounds

This year’s headline act for DanceSite was Djuki Mala (the Chooky Dancers) from Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island). In addition to performing, Djuki Mala also delivered a series of workshops at the Borroloola School. As a successful NT based dance group, the dancers acted as great role models to the children and young men, showing there can be the collaboration of both traditional and contemporary dance into a performance.

Five local dance groups performed, including a group from Robinson River, as well as a range of local and interstate dance groups. These included the Mornington Island Dancers from Queensland, as well as Ti Tree and Ali Curung from throughout the NT.


Marlene Timothy

Malandarri Festival Director and Cultural Events Officer

Waralungku Art Centre
Robinson Road, Borroloola NT 0854