NAISDA Dance College has begun its 2021 training year by welcoming Cultural Tutors Dujon Niue from Moa Island in the Torres Strait, Jeanette Fabila and Stuart McMinn from Gawura Cultural Immersions NSW to teach and share their song, dance and cultural practice with the College’s new cohort of Developing Artists.
The week-long residency was facilitated by NAISDA Head of Cultural Practice Jo Clancy, Head of Dance Deon Hastie and Cultural Trainer Casey Natty.
“NAISDA’s Cultural Residency Program offers a unique opportunity for our young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to build cultural knowledge and connection by learning first-hand from Elders and knowledge holders,” said Jo Clancy.
Now in his sixth year as a Cultural Tutor, Dujon Niue has come full circle in his NAISDA lifecycle, having studied at the Dance College in the early 1980s before going on to become a founding member of AIDT – The Company.
“NAISDA immerses students in a broad range of cultures, connecting with Cultural Tutors who come down to teach traditional songs and dances – for young students, this opens your mind, boosts your interest and deepens your understanding of yourself and others,” he explained.
“I use my own song and dance compositions to share knowledge and culture with the next generation. That’s the real reason I create and why I’m here for the sixth time,” he continued.
NAISDA’s long-standing Cultural Residency Program has been developed and delivered in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for over four decades. It is an integral part the College’s Songlines Philosophy of maintaining the integrity and longevity of cultural practice to be passed to the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and artistic leaders.
As part of the program, NAISDA students will travel to Moa later in the academic year to be welcomed by the community, gaining deeper insight by living with families and connecting with the Country where the songs, dances and stories originate.
Cultural Tutor Jeanette Fabila reflected on the importance of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students connecting through cultural practice.
“You need to keep looking for your connection and really take that on,” shared Ms Fabila.
“Educate yourself, and then educate others. Dig deep to find out who you truly are through your culture – this will give you the strength to speak up about our Indigenous needs and the respect our cultures and peoples deserve,” she added.
On Friday afternoon, NAISDA students shared their teachings and learnings from the onsite Cultural Residency with a small showing with Central Coast Elders, community members and organisations at Nhangara Barayi, NAISDA’s outdoor dancing ground and living learning space.