Yirramboi Festival unveils inaugural program

Yirramboi Creation LabA full moon dance party, riverside blessings for babies and toddlers and a free citywide treasure hunt are among the highlights of the City of Melbourne’s inaugural Yirramboi Festival.

The ten-day event, from 5 to 14 May, celebrates the diversity and creativity of 60,000 years of Aboriginal culture through 60 unique events including dance, music, visual art, theatre, film and talks in Melbourne’s laneways, public spaces and venues.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said local and international First Nations visionaries from New Zealand, Canada, United States of America, Scotland, Pacific Islands, Wales and Taiwan will gather in Melbourne for the reinvigorated festival.

“Indigenous leadership, dialogue, new ideas, and international collaboration are the four key principles of the Yirramboi Festival, which means ‘tomorrow’ in the shared languages of Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung,” said the Lord Mayor. “With all works created, choreographed, produced, directed and performed by Indigenous artists, the City of Melbourne is empowering a new generation of Aboriginal creatives to become cultural leaders.”

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said Yirramboi will bring together Indigenous artists and Elders from across the globe in Victoria.

“Victoria is the proud home of the world’s oldest continuing culture. This is what Yirramboi is about – a groundbreaking festival that showcases how First Nations people the world over are sharing their culture and stories in exhilarating, contemporary ways,” said Minister Foley. “The Victorian Government is a proud partner of Yirramboi – it’s a celebration of today that will forge a new tomorrow for artists, and art lovers, of all cultures.”

Chair of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Portfolio Councillor Rohan Leppert said the festival was a significant cultural event for Melbourne. “The City of Melbourne is looking forward to welcoming First Nations artists and creatives from around the world to our city for this pioneering festival, which will be a highlight of Melbourne’s cultural calendar,” said Councillor Leppert.

Yirramboi Festival Creative Director Jacob Boehme said his vision for the festival was to challenge stereotypes about First Nations art. “Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival is an unprecedented opportunity to reframe perceptions and shape a new dialogue about Indigenous arts in Australia and around the world,” said Mr Boehme.

“We are excited to create a city-wide ‘blak out’ when local and international Indigenous dancers, musicians, visual artists, performers and arts leaders gather in in Melbourne this May. Yirramboi is also a festival for everyone with a diverse program of events that will appeal to people of all ages, tastes and walks of life.”

The Yirramboi Festival is presented by the City of Melbourne, supported by Creative Victoria, in collaboration with the Elders Council of Kulin Nations people. “On behalf of the Yirramboi elders council representing the Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung, Taungurung, and Dja Dja Wurrung of the Kulin Nations, it is a privilege to be involved in as active contributors, bringing our knowledge and traditions to the creation of Yirramboi ,” said Boonwurrung Elder and Council member Aunty Carolyn Briggs.

Highlights of the Yirramboi Festival include:

Blak Critics
Online: 5 – 14 May
Indigenous voices will review blak work, events, critical conversations and industry updates.

Chasing Smoke
Meat Market, North Melbourne: 6 – 9 May
Born out of Circus Oz’s BLAKflip program, Chasing Smoke is a glimpse into the world’s oldest living culture told through the limitless art form of contemporary circus.

Ngarrga Bullarto Mirnian (Full Moon Party)
Federation Square: Thursday 11 May
An electronica dance party under the full moon featuring Kulin star stories told by Uncle Larry Walsh.

Barring Yanabul (We All Walk the Path)
Melbourne CBD: Saturday 13 May
A free citywide treasure hunt of live performance, installation, games, craft and experiments through the streets, laneways and rooftops of Melbourne.

Tooronga Baban Nganjin (New Mums Ceremony)
Birrarung (Yarra River) banks: Sunday 14 May (Mother’s Day)
A traditional welcome ceremony for bubs aged newborn to two years where Elders will gift them their first possum skin pelt.

Remember Ruby 
Arts Centre Melbourne: 5 – 14 May
A program of concerts and exhibitions honouring the life and work of Australia’s most loved Song Woman, Aunty Ruby Hunter.

Weelam Ngalut events
Meat Market, North Melbourne: 5 – 14 May
A dynamic mix of contemporary dance, circus, experimental and participatory theatre from around Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Wales and Zimbabwe is on offer at Meat Market (Weelam Ngalut), the home of Yirramboi and festival hub of First Nations’ live performance.

The inaugural Yirramboi Festival runs 5 – 14 May 2017. For more information and complete program, visit: www.yirramboi.net.au for details.

Image: The First Nations Creation Lab (supplied)