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Rainstorm Dreaming

On Gurindji land, perched on the northern edge of the Tanami Desert is Lajamanu Community, home to the Warlpiri people. Since 2005, the community has joined forces with Tracks Dance Company to present Milpirri Festival – a bilingual and bicultural celebration of Warlpiri culture.

This month, Tracks brings a taste of the festival to Larrakia Country with Milpirri Sensorium – an immersive experience bursting with dance, music and vivid imagery.

By Kate Conway

The performance is centred on 27 brightly coloured banners representing Warlpiri kinship relationships celebrating the community's cultural identity. Tracks worked with music producers, Monkey Marc and Mantra, to create a contemporary soundtrack featuring Warlpiri Elders to accompany footage of dancers for a complete audio visual experience.

“We can’t bring the desert here, so we are trying to create a sense of the festival with the Sensorium. Being outdoors, the song, the dance, and the visuals. There’ll be a small group of Elders singing live,” explains Tracks Dance Artistic Director David McMicken.

Alongside the sensorium, audiences are invited to a two-day symposium of workshops and discussions hosted by Tracks and Lajamanu community members, exploring how Warlpiri knowledge is passed on intergenerationally, from traditional into contemporary, and a session on kinship relationships.

Milpirri is based on the Ngapa Jukurrpa Rainstorm Dreaming of the Jampijinpa family. When hot desert air rises and merges with cold air, the Milpirri cloud is formed bringing thunder and lightning, but also rain, new growth and food. The Dreaming is a metaphor for the potential interaction between Indigenous and non-indigenous people, coming together and working through differences.

The sensorium is the latest venture in Tracks’ long running history of creative collaboration with Lajamanu. Working closely with Milpirri Festival Creative Director, Warlpiri man Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick, the sensorium embodies the Milpirri ethos of fusing the energy of youth with the wisdom of Elders to gain a better understanding of Western and Walpiri learning.

“It’s not just Lajamanu, it’s not just Tracks. In the Milpirri sense it’s the two things that have come together ... you see both contemporary and traditional work,” McMicken says.

“Even the designs painted on the bodies are not done in full ceremonial way, they’re done in a contemporary dance way. You can see that the collaboration of two things coming together can have really good benefits.”

Milpirri Sensorium
WHEN SUN 13 – THU 17 AUG 7PM, 7.40PM & 8PM

Milpirri Symposium
WHEN TUE 15 & WED 16 AUG 9-11.30AM


Images: Photo: Eve Milpirri

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