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Perspectives on dancing, singing and wellbeing from the Kimberley region of northwest Australia

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... Contemporary Indigenous Australians in urban and remote communities continue such cultural practices, including ceremonies with perceived similarities to ancient ones (Al-Yaman, 2016; Phipps & Slater, 2010;Treloyn & Martin, 2014). The "essential" role of song and dance in contemporary Indigenous culture and society is articulated by the General Assembly of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM). ...
... While it originated thousands of years ago, it remains dynamic. As many as 3,000 new dance-songs have been created by 35 composers in more than five languages over the last two centuries (Treloyn & Martin, 2014). Non-Indigenous scholar Sally Treloyn and Junba performer Matthew "Scotty" Martin describe Junba as an open or "public" genre performed at private, community, and public events, including festivals. ...
... Male and female performers are directed by a leader/composer, and community members contribute as dancers, singers, onlookers, helpers, or patrons. Elders explain performances to audiences, providing details about stories presented and issues affecting their communities (Treloyn & Martin, 2014). ...
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Indigenous peoples today continue ancient traditions of dance and other arts for sustaining and developing health and wellbeing. This chapter documents how traditional and contemporary dance practices of Indigenous peoples of Australia can strengthen participants’ access to quality of life, as described in Indigenous epistemology. We examine two case studies of cultural practices focused around dance in detail—the Junba dance-song tradition of Western Australia and the Milpirri Festival of the Northern Territory—identifying factors that might enable improved quality of life through dance. These include close connections with traditional culture, aesthetic elements utilized thoughtfully to facilitate experienced wellbeing, different roles and opportunities for people of all generations, and processes for negotiating new identities in changing contexts.
... DMT began to emerge as a profession in Australia in the late 1970s, largely out of the practice of creative and educational dance professionals who sought to develop the therapeutic potential of their work. However, the First Nations people of Australia have practiced dance as a healing art for millennia, in an unbroken line to the present day, for functions similar to those of DMT (Al-Yaman, 2016; Treloyn & Martin, 2014;Jordan, Searle, & Dunphy, 2017;Dunphy & Ware, 2019). Likewise, the Maori people of Aotearoa New Zealand have strong cultural dance practices that continue to be a vibrant part of culture (Dunphy, 1996). ...
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Humans have used dance as a healing art since the beginning of human history, but dance therapy has only begun to be recognized as a formal profession since the mid-1940s. At that time, dancers living in the USA began using dance as a therapeutic medium in health-care settings. Since then, the field has expanded across the world, with dance therapists now practicing in most countries. Professional associations have been established, training courses set up, and processes for registering therapists with government authorities implemented. This article provides an international overview of these developments. Detailed information about progress and challenges in the advancement of the dance therapy profession is offered across six world regions. Progress includes expansion of geographic range to countries where no formal training or networks exist, including many developing nations. Barriers to progress include lack of university-based accredited training and low numbers of professionals, making the establishment of a critical mass of practitioners difficult. Suggestions for future development of the profession internationally are made.
Article
Insights into the knowledge, performance, and transmission of songs are pivotal in ensuring the survival of traditional Aboriginal songs. We present the first in-depth musical analysis of a Wapurtarli yawulyu song set sung by Warlpiri women from Yuendumu, Central Australia, recorded in December 2006 with a solo lead singer accompanied by a small group. Our musical analysis reveals that there are various interlocking parts of a song, and this can make it difficult for current generations to learn songs. The context of musical endangerment and the musical analyses presented in our study show that contemporary spaces for learning yawulyu must consider the complex components that come together for a song set to be properly performed.
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Repatriation of song recordings from archives and private collections to communities of origin is both a common research method and the subject of critical discourse. In Australia it is a priority of many individual researchers and collecting institutions to enable families and cultural heritage communities to access recorded collections. Anecdotal and documented accounts describe benefits of this access. However, digital heritage items and the metadata that guide their discovery and use circulate in complex milieus of use and guardianship that evolve over time in relation to social, personal, economic and technological contexts. Ethnomusicologists, digital humanists and anthropologists have asked, what is the potential for digital items, and the content management systems through which they are often disseminated, to complicate the benefits of repatriation? How do the 'returns' from archives address or further complicate colonial assumptions about the value of research? This paper lays the groundwork for consideration of these questions in terms of cultural precedents for repatriation of song records in the Kimberley. Drawing primarily on dialogues between ethnomusicologist Sally Treloyn and senior Ngarinyin and Wunambal elder and singer Matthew Dembal Martin, the interplay of archival discovery, repatriation and dissemination, on the one hand, and song conception, song transmission, and the Law and ethos of Wurnan sharing , on the other, is examined. The paper provides a case for support for repatriation initiatives and for consideration of the critical perspectives of cultural heritage stakeholders on research transactions of the past and in the present. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2016/2 95 Treloyn et al. Cultural precedents for the repatriation of legacy song records to communities of origin
Conference Paper
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It is widely reported in Australia and elsewhere that songs are considered by culture bearers to be the "crown jewels" of endangered cultural heritages whose knowledge systems have hitherto been maintained without the aid of writing. It is precisely these specialised repertoires of our intangible cultural heritage that are most endangered, even in a comparatively healthy language. Only the older members of the community tend to have full command of the poetics of song, even in cases where the language continues to be spoken by younger people. Taking a number of case studies from Australian repertories of public song (wangga, yawulyu, lirrga, and junba), we explore some of the characteristics of song language and the need to extend language documentation to include musical and other dimensions of song performances. Productive engagements between researchers, performers and communities in documenting songs can lead to revitalisation of interest and their renewed circulation in contemporary media and contexts.
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The next century will see more than half of the world's 6,000 languages become extinct, and most of these will disappear without being adequately recorded. Written by one of the leading figures in language documentation, this fascinating book explores what humanity stands to lose as a result. Explores the unique philosophy, knowledge, and cultural assumptions of languages, and their impact on our collective intellectual heritage. Questions why such linguistic diversity exists in the first place, and how can we can best respond to the challenge of recording and documenting these fragile oral traditions while they are still with us. Written by one of the leading figures in language documentation, and draws on a wealth of vivid examples from his own field experience. Brings conceptual issues vividly to life by weaving in portraits of individual 'last speakers' and anecdotes about linguists and their discoveries.
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Researchers and collecting institutions have long been concerned with issues of sustainability and accessibility in relation to the audio and video recordings, metadata and documents that they create and manage. While early research sought to create a sustainable record of performance traditions that would be available to future generations, archives have striven to ensure that these recordings are held in durable and sustainable formats. In recent years this view of sustainability and accessibility has widened to include making records of cultural heritage discoverable and accessible to their countries and communities of origin often to support local efforts to reclaim cultural heritage materials and to sustain their traditions into the future. The potential for repatriation and research to contribute to sustaining traditions for future generations, however, is tied to an array of historical, political, economic and interpersonal factors and challenges. This article explores a range of these issues through two case studies that describe research activity and aspirations around two geographically, historically, and politically distinct ethnomusicological collections held in Australia: one a digital collection of recordings of dance-songs from the Kimberley region of northwest Australia dating from the 1960s to the present, currently the subject of a repatriation and cultural maintenance-focused research project; the other a unique collection of recordings and documents, primarily of South African Venda performance traditions that were collected by John Blacking in the 1950s and that are held in the Callaway Centre at the University of Western Australia.
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In a series of discussions between 1999 and 2002 Scotty Martin—an expert composer of junta songs in the northern Kimberley—dictated the texts of his jadmi style songs to first Linda Barwick and then myself so that they could be accurately transcribed. In the course of these discussions, Martin identified five short sections of text that he described as ‘half way’. In each case, this ‘half way’ description refers to the fact that, when sung, the text differs from its spoken form. The question of differences between sung and spoken language has been the focus of much recent research on Australian Aboriginal song by musicologists and linguists, and a number of recent detailed studies have identified textual and rhythmic factors that guide the rhythmicization of texts. As well as deepening understanding of the technical processes of song text construction and performance, this line of inquiry has also enabled linguists and musicologists to turn more closely to the poetics and aesthetics that permeate the relationship between and delivery of text and rhythm in songs. In this article I investigate the relationship between rhythmic modes and text structures in Martin's jadmi repertory to determine whether correlations between these two elements may play a role in the ‘half way’ singing of words, and then consider other creative factors—musical and non-musical (ancestral and foundational)—that may also play a role, in relation to Martin's own explanations of how and why ‘halfway’ text occurs. I argue that an understanding of how text/rhythm correlations are combined and negotiated by the composer and an awareness of the broader creative foundations of jadmi songs and singing are core to appreciating what ‘halfway’ (in the context of sung versus spoken language) means, and that these also contribute to appreciating the poetics and aesthetics of the jadmi song tradition and northern Kimberley song more broadly.
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Providing a ground-breaking answer to the questions of how to solve the problems of cross-generational trauma, Trauma Trails moves beyond the rhetoric of victimhood, and provides inspiration for anyone concerned about Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities today.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of British Columbia, 1994. Includes bibliographical references.
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