We went to the local library today, and a young bloke from Yirra Yaakin was there running a Didj and Dance session for the kids.
The start was organic, and hilarious. There were no formal introductions – he walked in, sat on the floor in the middle of the library, and started a drone on the didj. The children slowly gathered around him. Every now and then, he would suddenly let out a chirp or start a thrumming beat, and the younger kids squealed with laughter, eyes huge.
After a crowd had gathered, he taught the (mostly wadjela) kids ways of moving like Australian animals. He took them through some children’s story-dances involving the animals, and there was no shortage of volunteers from the crowd. The lad got to be a kangaroo, an emu, a djidi djidi, and an evil spirit. He particularly relished being an evil spirit.
After the dancing, the player sat down and the kids asked questions – how is the didjeridu made, how does he play it, are the dances done all over Australia. A few of the kids mentioned that they had Noongar storybooks at home or at school – and there was a little oneupmanship going on there as to how many each had.
This is all part of NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) week. Check out your local council website for events.
I’d like to take this opportunity to again post Yolngu dance group The Chooky Dancers doing Zorba the Greek.