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Case Studies Pakana Kanaplila statewide rehearsals | RAF Case Study (2018)

Pakana Kanaplila dancers received support from the RAF to spend two weekends on country which resulted in the creation of new dances in traditional Tasmanian Aboriginal form in preparation for their inaugural performance at Dance Rites 2018 in Sydney.

A Quick Response Grant recipient, via the Regional Arts Fund, as managed by RANT Arts.

Pakana Kanaplila is a cultural dance troupe whose members are located all over Tasmania. They were invited to attend Dance Rites, Australia’s major cultural dance event at the Sydney Opera House in November 2018, where hundreds of First Nations dancers from across Australia and the world come together to perform traditional and contemporary cultural dance. A Quick Response Grant supported the troupe to bring the dancers together for two separate two-day-long intensive rehearsal sessions on Country, to prepare for the important National cultural event.

The two weekends on Country, one at putalina/Oyster Cove and one at Chauncy Vale, resulted in the creation of new dances in traditional Tasmanian Aboriginal form. The troupe were able to translate traditional family stories into dance without the distraction of the city. By using practical knowledge of the bush, they were also able to create and strengthen culture by crafting traditional music instruments in order to support the dances. Continuing rehearsal in an intensive and un-interrupted way was imperative to the cohesion of the group towards their first participation in a major national cultural dance event. Not only did these gatherings help the troupe to hone their skills as dancers and prepare for the future, but they also deepened their connection to each other and Country more strongly.

As a people they have had very little recognition as a living and thriving culture, so to be the first group of Tasmanian Aboriginal dancers to be invited to Dance Rites strengthened both their identity and sense of community pride. Their community got to see their people represented on a national stage and other attending dance groups were able to witness and celebrate the power and beauty of lutruwita /Native Tasmania in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Showcasing their ancient culture, strengthening their community, and sharing their continuing pride and strength is something that every member of Pakana Kanaplila is dedicated to.

Staying on country at Cockatoo Island with other First Nations people from all over the world during the event gave Pakana Kanaplila members an opportunity to network with dancers of varying professional levels. Performing over the weekend in front of thousands of audience members was also of great benefit. Being a part of a national collective of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and other First Nations dancers was an incredibly powerful and inspiring way to revive and reconnect to ancestors, especially in such a culturally supportive space such as Dance Rites.


  • Pakana Kanaplila are the first dance group of the luwtrawita Nation (Tasmania) to compete in Dance Rites.
  • The troupe created a new dance in traditional style which was carried themes of community, connection and responsibility to country.
  • Networks and cultural connections made during the event, many relationships, both spiritual and professional continue to be maintained.
  • Development of younger dancers, some of whom had not performed in front of large crowds before.
  • Having members from Launceston able to attend meant that the troupe was able to be more inclusive in their cultural efforts

Applicant location: Hobart, Tas.
Project Location: putalina/Oyster Cove, Tas & Cockatoo Island/Sydney Opera House, NSW.
Amount of RAF support: $1500
Total project cost: $7930

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Pakana Kanaplila dancers
Pakana Kanaplila dancers at Dance Rites, Sydney, 2018