Stories in the Dust

Painted bodies with outstretched arms moved eerily through the clouds of dust kicked up by their bare feet. As they moved to the pulsing drum beat and music sung in language, the dancers imitated animals and sspirits to tell storiees to the watching crowds, with eyes wide and baited breath.

“When our hunters would go out, they would watch the animals and study them, then return and imitate them in dance to educate our people,” Agnes explained, flicking paint carefully across her canvas as she readied an artwork to submit in the upcoming Laura Competition.  

Img Copyright to Jess Saxton

Dancers perform the Brolga Dance, Img Copyright to Jess Saxton

At the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival these traditions could be witnessed first hand. Laura Festival is one of the few remaining events where indigenous dance groups come together to share and stengthen culture, not for financial or commercial gain, but for the sake of future generations and the continuation of their age old cultures.

Singers and musicians laid the foundations for dancers to awe and inspire watching crowds, showcasing unique dance styles and stoires from their home. The spirit of the event was captured effortlessly by NPA Indigenous Artist Agnes Mark in her artwork titled Brolga Dance. 

Agnes Mark with her work 'Brolga Dance'.

Agnes Mark with her work ‘Brolga Dance’.

“When we grew up, we were taught the stories and culture of Old Mapoon by our grandfather,” Agnes said, “I remember him sitting by the fire, my sisters and I at his feet, and he would teach us about the land, spirits and our stories, and now we too can pass these on.”

Her work Brolga Dance was highly commended in the Laura Dance Festival Art Awards 2013.

“We were so proud when Aggie’s name was called,” said husband Johnny Mark, “We know her work is amazing, but it’s great to see it acknowledged at a level such as this.”