Skip to Content

Twitter @CreativeMusicFd Facebook CreativeMusicFund Instagram @creativemusicfund


A Creative Music Fund partnership with the Sydney Opera House.

The Dance Rites project is the brainchild of the Sydney Opera House’s Head of Indigenous Programming, Rhoda Roberts, and a significant extension of the Opera House’s commitment to promoting First Nation arts and culture.

Credit: Dance Rites featured on ABC’s Lateline.



Credit: White Fella Dreaming series by Sydney Opera House.

22 NOVEMBER 2015

Credit: Sydney Opera House, Western Boardwalk.

The Dance Rites project is the brainchild of the Sydney Opera House’s Head of Indigenous Programming, Rhoda Roberts, and a significant extension of the Opera House’s commitment to promoting First Nation arts and culture.



2015 Pilot Project Notes

The Creative Music Fund with the Opera House has commissioned a series of original performances by Aboriginal communities, to be presented in November 2015 at Homeground, the annual celebration of First Nation music, dance and culture, attended by more 10,000 people.

Each group will perform welcome and farewell songs in language and dance, revitalising aspects of their culture that have fallen out of practice or been lost. Rhoda Roberts will facilitate a community consultation process and performance development workshops in the lead up to Homeground. In addition to the CMF’s support, which will enable the consultation process and workshops, Dance Rites will be supported by two other partners: the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA), who will provide a NAISDA graduate to work alongside Rhoda; and the National Film and Sound Archive, which will provide unique access to their extensive archival material, to help connect communities with lost cultural practices.

Sydney is home to the largest Aboriginal community in Australia. Urbanisation has had a significant impact on authentic local cultural practices in many Aboriginal communities. Dance Rites will support these communities to re-establish and develop their local cultural practices and connection to country and ensure they are preserved and evolve, and are passed down across future generations. As Rhoda says: “All cultures keep their classics alive, but if things continue, in 30 years the songman and woman and their classic art form, and audience, will be entirely lost.”

It is particularly appropriate that the Opera House lead Dance Rites. The land upon which it is situated, Tubowghule, now Bennelong Point, was for thousands of years a gathering place for the Gadigal and Eora people, who danced and sang here. A key driver of the project is engaging indigenous audiences, by turning art and culture into an arena for the sort of competition that, as Rhoda has said, so deeply engages First Nation communities on the sporting field. The aim is to have communities travel to see their ‘teams’ perform on an annual basis, and to have selected Dance Rites groups perform at the Koori Mail Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout, an event entirely ‘owned’ and championed by communities.

Dance Rites builds on the model of the North American Powwow Circuit, which has successfully revitalised traditional ceremony among North American, primarily Canadian, communities. Today Powwows are celebrations across Canada that showcase indigenous music, dances, dance apparel, food and crafts.

We are seeking to generate CMF investment of $50k to support the Dance Rites community consultation process, performance development workshops, and the professional development of the performances to be presented at Homeground in November 2015. CMF’s investment will complement the Opera House’s development and presentation of the Dance Rites project and enable the project to attain a scale that is sustainable long-term. CMF will be acknowledged as the Project Patron of Dance Rites. At each stage of Dance Rite’s development, CMF donors will have exclusive opportunities to work with Rhoda Roberts and to observe and engage in the community consultation and in the development of the performance works for Homeground.

CMF Investors

We have partnered with the Sydney Opera House on Dance Rites following on from our partnerships with Bangarra’s highly successful Patyagarang, and ACO’s The Reef, both works having made significant contributions to Australian stories and culture.

The Creative Music Fund is the Project Patron providing the seed funding and is engaged with the philanthropy thought leadership.

CMF entry level remains, in line with our previous funding projects at $1,000 fully tax deductible. The investment for Dance Rites can be spread over two financial years, and provided as a lump sum, or monthly installments. As with our previous projects, our unique ‘insider’s view’ of the whole project, including local community activities, will be available to CMF funders.

Dance Rites Investors

Suzi Aboud/Sean Hogben
Jane Albert/Andrew Fisher
Ian Andrews/Jane Hall
Andrew Cameron/Kathy Cameron
Annabelle Chapman
Jann Gardner/Tony Cavanagh
Susan Johnston/Pauline Garde
James Kirby/Claire Wivell Plater
Scott Marinchek/David Wynne
Kate Mills/Sally Breen
Jane McDermott/Michael Austin
Newcastle Decorative and
Fine Arts Association
Martin Portus/Martyn Smith
Jo Pretyman
Regal Health Group
Janne Ryan
Amanda Tobias/Robert Tobias
Nick Tobias/Miranda Darling
Stephen Wells, Mischa Way and Darryl Way

Pro Bono

Website: Andrew Gadsby/Alan Gallaher – Hello

Video/film: Marque Owen

CMF Advisory Panel for Dance Rites:
Jann Gardner, Andrew Leece, Scott Marinchek, Jane McDermott, Nicola Penn, Martin Portus, Janne Ryan, Stephen Wells