Photos of Aboriginal Dancing in the Northern Territory, Australia

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Aboriginal Dancing in the Northern Territory

Among the most spectacular manifestations of Aboriginal culture are the ceremonies and dances that are regularly performed in remote Outback Australia. There are cultural festivals, among them the yearly Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, the Barunga Festival in the north of the Northern Territory and a festival in Yuendumu in the Centre, where different communities come together for a few days of cultural exchange, among others.

Warlpiri
 
Girls decorated
 
Women singing
 
Women's dance
 
Men singing
 
Traditional dance
 
Men's dance
 
Wanparda dance
 
Headdress
 
Teaching
 
Night time Corroborree
 
Dancing
 
Dance at night
 
Women's dance
 
Warlpiri men
 
 
Western Desert dance
 
Fast stepping dance
 
Central Desert dance
 
Warlpiri Corroborree
 
 
Warlpiri women dance
 
Jurntuwana corroborree
 
 
Dancing
 
Evening
 
The
 
 
 
 
 
Bungkul Dance
 
 
 
Malkari dance
 
 
Dancing
 
Using clapsticks
 
Doing a
 
Performing a
 
Emu Bungkul
 
Emu dance
 
Ceremonial decoration
 
Arnhem Land dancer
 
Woman's dance
 
Arnhem Land dance
 
Making fire
 
Maningrida dancer
 
Tiwi dancers
 
Tiwi dancers
 
Warlpiri women
 
Women from Willowra
 
Painting face
 
Warlpiri women dance
 
Central Australia
 
Central Australia
 
Decorating for Purlapa
 
Ngatijirri Purlapa
 
Pintubi women
 
 

Among the peoples of central Australia a social corroboree is known as "purlapa" and usually takes the form of a stamping dance by men and boys, decorated with "wamurlu", a vegetable down (kind of wild cotton), left in its natural light grey or coloured with red ochre. This "wamurlu" is stuck to the body and the designs always reflect the "dreaming" that is sung and is unique to the kinship affiliation of the dancer. Often headdresses are built up with twigs, bound together with hair string (made from human hair) and decorated with "wamurlu" and emu feathers. Women have their own dances, often a loose-knee shuffle, while holding painted boards or sticks. Elaborate designs are painted on their upper bodies.

Traditional dances are also often performed in the communities just for fun and, for instance, to celebrate the opening of a new building or even the graduation from college. But there are also traditional dances at funerals in Top End communities, especially in Arnhem Land and on the Tiwi Islands. All dances have their roots in the "dreamings", the creation myths, sung in the old languages while the actions of the performers illustrate the deeds of the "Dreamtime Heroes", the mythical beings that created the land in the mythical past.

Social dances in the Top End are often called "bungkul" or "wungubal" and typically are very lively with jumps by the men but more demure movements by the women. Hard wooden clapsticks are used to keep time and the "didjeridu", the famous dronepipe made from a hollow log, provides a unique background sound. The didjeridu is uniquely from Arnhem Land and was, in the old days, used nowhere else. In the Tiwi Islands to the north of Darwin, dances are accompanied by chanting and hand clapping; during their fast clan dances men often slap their upper legs.