DanceRites Free On Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Rebecca Varidel
1st Nov 2023

The Sydney Opera House today announced the full program for DanceRites 2023, a free celebration of First Nations dance, music, and culture taking place on the Opera House’s Forecourt on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 November.   This year’s festival will be the largest on-site iteration of Australia’s only national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance competition since the event began in 2015. The two-day celebration of dance and culture will showcase over twenty dance groups and more than 300 performers from over 30 nations and clans across Australia. Each group will present their Cultural Dance and Song cycle to showcase their local storytelling and language, with many groups also performing an optional ‘Wildcard’ dance that demonstrates their unique style and explores elements of contemporary performance.

The free weekend of family-friendly events will include performances from:

- Celebrated Songman Fred Leone (Butchulla and Garrwa) who will close Saturday evening with a headlining set, bringing his genre transcending style of hip-hop rhymescapes, singular vocals and traditional instrumentation – including Didgeridoo, boomerangs and emu egg – to the stage and

- Jannawi Dance Clan, a First Nations dance company centred on the continuation and revitalisation of Dharug language, stories, song, and dance, heightening the voices of Dharug peoples and histories.

Co-hosting DanceRites are MCs Rhianna Patrick (Zagareb and Wagedagam) and Luke Currie-Richardson (Kuku Yalanji, Djabugay, Mununjali, Butchulla, and Meriam).  As a trailblazing Torres Strait Islander media professional, Patrick's vast career has spanned 25 years. Currie-Richardson, a multi-disciplinary artist, brings his insight as a previous DanceRites winner (Muggera, who won in 2019) and experience as a professional dancer with credits including Bangarra Dance Theatre.

that have taken place over tens of thousands of years on Bennelong Point, known to its traditional custodians as Tubowgule. Upholding the site as a meeting place for storytelling, ritual celebration and dance, the competition will be held on the Opera House Forecourt, one of the world’s most spectacular outdoor stages.

Further details about this year’s competing dance groups, judges, and awards are available here.

DanceRites is free for all to attend in person. The Cultural Dance and Song Cycle Finals on Sunday 26 November will be livestreamed on Sydney Opera House’s platform Stream.

The full schedule is available here and for audience information in the lead up to the event, sign up here

Jannawi Dance Clan performing at DanceRites 2019 photo Daniel Boud

The Sydney Opera House First Nations program continues the traditions of Bennelong Point, known to its traditional custodians as Tubowgule, which has been a meeting place for the local Gadigal people for tens of thousands of years. The year-round program celebrates the richness of First Nations cultures by presenting works that address urgent contemporary issues, retell forgotten stories and revitalise ancient cultural practice.