Indigenous dance groups from around Australia will come together in Sydney this weekend for Homeground - a national competition. The best groups will share in prize money, but competitors are gaining something far more valuable.
Ross Turner

7 Oct 2016 - 5:10 PM  UPDATED 7 Oct 2016 - 5:10 PM

A member of the Bundjalung nation, Widjabul and Gidabul clans of Northern NSW and South East QLD, Rhoda Roberts is the head of Indigenous Programming at the Sydney Opera House. Which happens to be the location where thousands of Indigenous artists will be performing this weekend. 

Ahead of the big event, NITV News spoke to Rhoda about why Homeground is so important for the Indigenous culture, why it's located at the Opera House and a sneak peak of what to expect.

NITV: The Homeground is being held again at the Opera House. What makes this event so important and how does it differ to the Homeground event that took place back in May?

RR: Well the Homeground event that took place in May was called Homeground Talks and it was based around dialogue and is timed to coincide with the 67 referendum anniversary, because we want to get people talking about the serious issues at that time. This Homeground follows with the same branding but it is a two day music and dance event that is free and open to all. It’s a big push for access to the Opera House and the many art forms that are available there. Its all to help open the Opera House up as a cultural hub to those that have never had a chance to go there before.

NITV: What are some of the standout events taking place at Homeground this weekend and people to watch out for?

RR: Well there are music and dance workshops as well as contemporary art and more traditional forms of art and traditional practices. So there's a real nice mixture of the old and new. Its also an international event, we have people coming from overseas to take part in Homeground. We have New Zealand traditional healers who will be helping to massage the mind in traditional Maori ways. We've got the fantastic Leonard Sumner from Canada. His song ‘Northern Lights’ really sums up this guy. He is billed as one of greatest in blues and Canadian music. Hes going to be very well known in a couple of years. From across the pacific we have Trinity Roots attending, as well as a great PNG percussion band that does great highlands music. There will also be some young faces as well including Mi-Kaisha Masella who was on the Voice Kids. We are thrilled to have her performing with us, but also because this gives her a chance to perform with her mentors. I'm also thrilled that we can be bringing down performers from Northeast Arnhem Land including ‘East Journey’ and Rrawun Maymuru who is an amazing musician and ranger from Yirrkala.

NITV: There is a dancing contest going on this weekend what are the dancers competing for?

RR: Well I think the excitement isn’t actually because of the contest, but rather that these dance troops get  to perform at the Sydney Opera House. And these groups will get to come here and perform their stories, their songlines. I think its very important to know our stories through dance. This in many respects it’s a traditional gathering with corroborees that showcases dances songlines and language. Its so important to show our dance heritage, and that’s very exciting that we get to do that now. The winner of the competition also receives $20000, so theres an extra exciting part to that competition as well. Its like the old ways these dance troops, but we are seeing a lot of enthusiasm from the younger generations, especially people below the age of 30 as a way of expressing their heritage. So we are really hoping to see Dance Rites really grow over the next few years, but we can also see the benefits of Dance Rites economically as towns and dance troops come together to train and work towards taking part in the Dance Rites competition.

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