• Yuin Nation on the South Coast of NSW celebrating culture in the Nation Dance in 2019. (Intrigue Photography / Ripe Mentoring)Source: Intrigue Photography / Ripe Mentoring
The event encourages First Nations people all over Australia to dance simultaneously on their Country, connecting Indigenous people to their culture and each other.
By
Bernadette Clarke

18 Mar 2021 - 5:15 PM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2021 - 5:15 PM

'Nation Dance', the first event of its kind, empowered around one-hundred Indigenous nations to move simultaneously on Country back in 2019.

After an outpouring of gratitude for the inaugural dance, organisers hoped the event would become an annual occurrence, but with COVID-19 restrictions that wasn't possible in 2020.

Now, as communities move forward from the pandemic, the powerful expression of culture and healing through dance will go ahead this year on April 3. 

Not only will it provide a stage for mob to share their ancestral dances with their own communities, but also First Nations communities across the globe, as the dance will again be shared live on the web.

The event will align with the 2021 NAIDOC theme 'Heal Country!', a meaningful theme for many First Nations people like Yuin woman Lauren Henry.

"The last 'Nation's Dance'... we were dancing for our brothers and sisters across the nation that needed rain on their countries. It was a moment for us to channel those who had come before us, to cherish those dancing with us and for those to come in the future."

Ms Henry told NITV News that she's excited for the conversations and change this year's NAIDOC theme will bring.

"Healing Country is more than just fixing the land. It’s a connection and a relationship, give and take. It’s an opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate the beautiful land that we all live on. We all have a connection to this country and as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care takers it’s our responsibility to lead and show others how they too can help heal country," she said.

Gooreng Gooreng and Wakka Wakka man Alwyn Doolan is the man who initiated the inaugural Nation Dance, and is undertaking preparations for the next one.

"It's on a very rare occasion that we as First Nations people can come together at the same time, being so disconnected geographically but connected, united, virtually, knowing we're all doing something at the same time," he told NITV News.

Mr Doolan is encouraging community leaders to make the event happen on their Country.

"The expectation is the individuals responsibility to their own to make that nation dance happen to their own communities."

But he wants to also remind First Nations people that they should be inspired to dance any time of the year.

"I think that it's a process unlike any other; that Nation Dance brings really a grassroots aspect to it [but] it's not about me telling people when and where they can dance...

"I've seen the aftermath of what happened with the first Nation Dance people, (they) continued to dance on a random day, that's the sort of cultural aspect that I think.. reminded a lot of our mob that we don't need a calendar event day."

Disappointed the event had to be postponed in 2020, Mr Doolan is looking forward to this year's event, as it will give First Nations people an opportunity to embrace their culture.

"It's incredible... culture is a life-line for our people. It has no particular expiry date. It's lasted for over 60,000 years and it's still continuing within our lives."

"For us to be able to share that and come together united in a front of our ancient dances and songs and ceremonies and be able to share that with everyone at the same time - I think that's the whole main concept of what Nation Dance is about."