Stories for Keeping Strong - Bangarra Rekindling

I'm Robert James Page. I study at Naisda Dance College. I am a Nywaigi and Mununjali man from Townsville.

I'm Tyrone Simkins. I'm 19 years old. I'm from Inverell up near Moree and Tamworth.

I'm Talia King. I'm 14 and I'm from the Dharawal, Yuin and Walbunja nation and I'm here doing to the Bangarra Rekindling.

Rekindling is a good program. Even that name just says cultural grounding and strength. Like to build something that's sort of died out. It hasn't really died out 'cause it still got embers there and all you need is someone with the passion or the strength or courage just to blow on it and just to bring that fire back to life. These kids who are getting all this knowledge they're forming a bond together. At first they were mostly independent of each other and they would be in little groups but now they're all interacting with each other. It does show a sense of a community, they're making their own little community.

What we're doing now is assisting teaching our young people what the culture is. Probably finding out their own mob in there. In high school I wasn't really connecting with my culture 'cause we never got to do any of that. We never got to go out and find out some of our people and stuff like that. Like finding out the areas, what the languages are and probably who the elders are.

The connection with the elders in the Rekindling Program, they've given us knowledge and these stories we would never know especially 'cause some of it's not even passed down though writing and it should be written down but that's the aboriginal culture. We speak it. We speak everything.

Through the programs we've just been working on some repertoires and we've been working on creating new dances and we went to Killalea State Park and we got some inspiration from the site and we created a dance from that. My involvement in Rekindling has really helped me culturally and it's helped me know more about my country and how to express that in the way I dance. It's really kept me strong being with the girls and having the role models. My favourite moment of the Rekindling Program would probably have to be like the day before show because we're all nervous but we're so excited about it and we're excited to share our culture and to share our dances and express who we are through our dances to all the people that are coming and all the spirits that are watching down on us.

Dancing on the stage with all the girls and learning the dance definitely kept me strong throughout the whole experience and just now or just before when we were performing it just felt every stomp that we did on the ground, every time we bent, every time we did something, the spirits and our elders, we could just feel their presence with us. And it was just amazing to share that experience with our parents and with the elders that were there and any other person that was there.

I'm just having a difficult time trying to figure out who my mob is, who's my clan, and all that. It's a bit difficult but I know I'm going to find it. I know that I'm going to meet up with somewhere with people from whoever my clan is one day. I'm still searching and discovering more and more. I'm gonna say dancing's my life now. My culture's my life.

There are times when I do experience sort of a grey area, where I've just like zoned out and dropped out of a routine and dancing does help. I do see a counsellor and it helps heaps. Yeah I do have a mental health plan and it's based on that strong community based thing. I've got a cool family, hang out with friends. If I haven't got that strong community sense, I'm just really lost and I don't know where I'm at. And it's made me strong in the fact that I do reach out into this sort of traditional custom, where is I reach out to friends and try to find the sense of community.