• Ruth Letch

‘Underneath your feet, our history sleeps’: Indigenous Cultural Connection at the ‘Bay Mob’ Expo

‘We are one red blood.’ United through this Indigenous Australian law of belonging, visitors are warmly welcomed to the 2019 Bay Mob Health and Education Expo held at Monash University’s Frankston Campus.

A sacred ‘smoking ceremony’ conducted by Uncle Shane and Uncle Mike of the Bunurong people, embraces everyone present, inviting them to walk together, treading softly, gently and carefully, in treaty and reconciliation with the land and its First People. This tradition serves to cleanse and heal, while also sharing respect for people past and present. A perfect introduction, it immediately creates a bond between everyone, regardless of gender, age or cultural background.

A sacred ‘smoking ceremony’ conducted by Uncle Shane and Uncle Mike of the Bunurong people. 'Walk together, treading softly, gently and carefully, in treaty and reconciliation with the land and its First People.'

Created by the combined efforts of a wide group of organisations, this expo is a result of 12 months’ worth of planning.

Including both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community service, entertainment, arts, sports, food and cultural activities, Bay Mob ‘showcases many of the health, education and wellbeing opportunities available for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the Mornington Peninsula.’ (Helen Bnads, Elder, and Cultural Lead at Peninsula Health)

Natarsha Bamblett of Big Sisterhood performs a cultural dance at Bay Mob Expo

Australia’s First Nation people are at one with Mother Earth. Nothing depicts this as clearly as the cultural dance performed by Natarsha Bamblett of Big Sisterhood. Barefoot, she draws the audience into her performance with gentle reverence as she tells the story of her people’s connection with the Earth. Incorporating movements in imitation of Australian birds and animals, she brings the dreamtime to life on the gymnasium steps, with the sounds of magpies accompanying the haunting musical track. Her emotion flows from serious to joyous as her rhythmic movements and obvious love of her land embraces the history, connection, purpose and belonging of her ancestral culture.

Natarsha dances with pride, exploring the pain of the past and exalting the strength of her people. Following her performance, she encourages the audience to ‘stand together, walk together, heal together and live a brighter future… together.’

Her words resonate through her work with Big Sisterhood where she uses dance to connect with young women and help them ‘break through the weight of cultural expectations.’ Encouraging them to strive for their dreams and goals, Natarsha believes that ‘the self-expression inherent in the performing arts is a perfect way to inspire youth to become resilient, strong and leaders in their local community.’

'Tarsh' Bamblett welcoming everyone to the Bay Mob Health and Education Expo for Indigenous Australian people

The strong sense of ‘one’ continued through the afternoon with a vibrant afternoon performance by Wicked Force Breakers. Australian breakdance champions, this experienced crew are guaranteed to entertain, and always get their audience up and dancing. From toddlers to grandmothers and everyone in between, Wicked Force uphold the inclusiveness of the hip hop and break dance community, a perfect addition to the day’s festivities.

With jumping castles, tennis lessons, food, entertainment, education and including more than 40 stall holders, Bay Mob has something for everyone. As explained by Helen Bnads, this free, family-orientated expo ‘brings together health, education, sports, arts and government providers to share information about their services and to further promote Aboriginal safety, strong culture, strong peoples’ aspiration of self-determination’. Cultural connection is the driving force of this focus on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australian youth, men and women.

Dance unites. Through community involvement and work with kids, youth and adults, we create a safe space for self-expression and give people the opportunity to be confident and true to themselves.

This post was previously published on the Dance Writer blog 7th October 2019 https://www.dancewriter.com.au/reviews/underneath-your-feet-our-history-sleeps-indigenous-cultural-connection-at-the-bay-mob-expo/

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