Homeground to celebrate First Nations culture

Waang Djari at Homeground 2015 photo by Prudence UptonThe edge-of-your-seat dance competition, Dance Rites leads two packed days of free music, art and performance at Homeground – the annual festival that transforms the Sydney Opera House into an inspiring celebration of First Nations culture in October.

Aboriginal rock band East Journey – featuring the next generation of the legendary Yothu Yindi musical family, will bring the soul of their Yolngu homelands in northeast Arnhem Land to Sydney on the Homeground stage. Echoes of Fat Freddy’s Drop will ring out from Wellington-based Trinity Roots’ jazz-inspired rootsy soul music, while Brisbane-based live sensation Dubmarine’s beats and energy mix hypnotically for late-night dancing.

The immersive Homeground program also includes a popular Indigenous arts market, tours revealing Bennelong’s story, menu items curated by Australia’s only ‘hatted’ Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan and interactive workshops for all ages. The weekend of experiences brings to life the age-old traditions of Bennelong Point, known to the Gadigal people as Tubowgule, meaning ‘where the magic waters meet’.

Crowd favourite Dance Rites – Australia’s first national Indigenous dance competition – will be back, this year in the Opera House’s biggest-yet specially-made harbourside sand circle. Last year’s Dance Rites pilot attracted a capacity crowd to the Western Boardwalk and this year’s competition promises to be even bigger and better with dancers showcasing the language, dance movements, instruments and skin markings of their communities for local and international audiences alike.

Through Dance Rites, participants share knowledge between generations and communities, reigniting vanishing cultural practices as they dazzle the crowd.

“Come with your family and be inspired by some of the oldest living cultures on earth,” says Sydney Opera House Head of Indigenous Programming Rhoda Roberts AO.  “Homeground is for everyone, wherever they come from and whatever their age, a chance to stand together to celebrate First Nations culture at the Opera House.”

Homeground comes on the heels of the Sydney Opera House’s ambitious new Reconciliation Action Plan 2017-2019, unveiled last week. The festival forms the centerpiece of the Opera House’s year-round Indigenous program which, along with Dance Rites, is a highlight story of the latest RAP.

The Opera House was the first performing arts centre in Australia to establish a RAP in 2011. Building on strong foundations established over the past five years, with on-going support from Reconciliation Australia, the fourth RAP details ambitious targets to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island arts and culture across the full spectrum of what the Opera House offers – from programming and experiences, to education and employment; from artists and performers, to visitors and audiences.

“I invite everyone to join us at Homeground to enjoy our annual celebration of First Nations culture,” says Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM. “This is our fourth Homeground and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved so far. By joining together we create a shared sense of belonging and a better future for us all.”

Alongside Vivid LIVE, All About Women, Festival of Dangerous Ideas and GRAPHIC, Homeground is a signature annual festival in the Opera House calendar.

Homeground takes place Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October 2016. For more information, visit: www.sydneyoperahouse.com for details.

Image: Waang Djari at Homeground 2015 – photo by Prudence Upton