Record-breaking crowds have turned out to attend the 35th biennial Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival held in Cape York, Queensland. The three day festival ran from Friday the 30th of June to Sunday the 2nd of July this year, with over 20 communities travelling to Laura Festival to dance and share culture with one another and with audiences. The festival features the ceremonial dances of the communities, completed by dance groups in traditional dress and with the use of props of traditional weapons and tools to showcase their culture and storytelling. The Dance Festival Ground at Laura is held on the site of a very old traditional Bora ground on Quinkan land and is a respected and sacred site to Aboriginal people.
The importance of the event is highlighted by event organizer, Tracey Lee Luddock, who explains that every song performed has a meaning and ‘'they sing and dance about animals that are their totems. It's so important to keep this festival alive because it's where [communities] pass on their culture'.
This year more than 7,000 people attended the festival which demonstrates the strength of the event for fostering appreciation and respect for Indigenous Australia, as well as the significance of the festival for families and communities to pass down cultural knowledge and pride. The festival is seen as a very important event in cultural retention and for Aboriginal Australians to learn of their culture and of their ancestry.
As explained on the Festival website, ‘the Festival also enables the wider community to witness and gain insight into the uniqueness of Aboriginal culture. Festival spectators witness the story telling of Aboriginal culture through dance, language and art’.
The record breaking attendance of well over 7,000 people (more than double the attendance of the 2015 festival) is a positive stride for reconciliation and celebration and retention of Aboriginal culture.
Watch highlights of the festival here.