Maori and Aboriginal dancers to perform together on Anzac Day

Haka for Life ABC
Haka for life (Photo: ABC News)

Irena Ceranic – ABC News

15 April 2018

A group of Maori and Aboriginal dancers will make history at this year’s Anzac Day commemorations in Perth, when they join forces to perform together for the first time.

The Haka, an ancient Maori war dance, and the corroboree, a traditional Aboriginal dance, have never been performed in unison before.

Event coordinator Leon Ruri said it would be a unique performance with a powerful message.

“It’s about the coming together of two cultures into one, to show strength and unity, and that two are better than one and stronger than one,” he said.

Young corroboree participants at a rehearsal ahead of their performance with haka dancers at Anzac Day commemorations in Kings Park. (Photo: ABC News Irena Ceranic)

“It can be a positive demonstration, not only as a stand for the Anzacs and their memory, but also as a demonstration to the world that you can bring cultures together, no matter our differences, and when we focus our intentions on one thing we can achieve wonderful things.”

Noongar man Ash Penfold posted a video on social media calling for Aboriginal dancers to join him in the performance.

The response was huge.

Ash Penfold put a call out on social media for aboriginal dancers to join him on Anzac Day. (Photo: ABC News Irena Ceranic)

“I noticed that a lot of the gatherings I went to were funerals. One of the first or second times I met my father was at a funeral…. I just had enough,” he said.

“That’s what drove me to speak up. I was just over seeing my people and my mob at funerals and that’s the only time we come together as one.”

Hundreds of people of all ages will take part in this performance — which is not just about bringing the two cultures together.

Aboriginal musicians ABC
Aboriginal musicians and dancers join Maori doing the haka for Anzac Day. (Photo: ABC News Irena Ceranic)

They are also trying to raise awareness about mental health.

“It’s to honour our people that fought in the war, but also to speak up for our people who are now fighting a war in their minds,” Mr Penfold said.

Mr Ruri said he wanted to encourage men to speak more openly about mental health.

“We want to be a demonstration to men that no matter your background, your past, or what you’ve done, or who you are, that you can come together powerfully and fully express yourself,” he said.

The performance will take place at 7am following the Anzac Day dawn service at Kings Park.

Maori and Aboriginal dancers ABC
Maori and Aboriginal dancers rehearsing together with a blend of Indigenous music and the haka. (Photo: ABC News Irena Ceranic)

[Read the ABC article].

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