Community & Cultural Projects

Cultural Camps

Case Study | 2013 Dance & Culture Camp

In June 2013, 20 Aboriginal high school students from the Coffs Harbour, Macksville and Kempsey communities attended the Saltwater Freshwater Dance and Culture Camp at Scotts Head NSW. This location was a significant mid-way point between the Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti nations, and gave the young people the opportunity to learn about the two nation’s history of gathering together over many thousands of years.


The focus of the camp was dance, as five dance facilitators worked with the young participants, aged 13-17 years, to learn the new (Our) Flash Mob dance, choreographed to include a mix of traditional, contemporary and hip-hop styles, with many elements from the Saltwater Freshwater Dance piece.

Daily dance rehearsals across two days at the venue, as well as on Scotts Head beach, saw young dancers challenged to not only explore dance, but take on leadership roles, develop personal discipline and work as a team.

Cultural workshops were also held throughout the camp including Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti language, gum leaf playing, bush tucker, leather weaving and didgeridoo for the boys.  A highlight of the camp was the nightly campfire where young people enjoyed singing, hearing stories of spirits and ancestors and yarning with Elders.

The final day of the camp saw the young people perform for their families and community members, who all enjoyed a traditional bush tucker lunch. The young dancers’ transition from inexperienced and unsure dancers to a solid dance troupe was inspiring to watch.

Following the performance, Johanna Clancy, camp dance facilitator and NAISDA teacher announced that four young people were selected from the camp to attend a NAISDA camp in August 2013.

The dance piece learnt at camp was later performed by the young dancers as the (Our) Flash Mob dance troupe, with a series of flash mob performances at high profile locations around the Kempsey CBD during NAIDOC week in July 2013.

During this project, in addition to employing 22 Aboriginal people, we have tried to create as many skills and professional development opportunities as possible. We linked two budding Aboriginal photographers and videographers with high profile ABC Open, supported local dance facilitators to receive mentoring from a professional NAISDA teacher, and created a platform for four regional students to attend the prestigious NAISDA camp and build networks in the professional dance world.

The camp’s key success has been immersing 20 young Aboriginal people in new cultural, community and career realms.

Mentored by regional Aboriginal dancers to build their dance skills and then performing for their community, the youth participants now have an opportunity to play a key role in the revitalisation of dance in their community and have joined the chain of cultural custodians who can pass down knowledge to the next generation.


  • 20 young people attended camp
  • 22 Aboriginal people employed on project
  • Produced a new 6 minute dance piece
  • 3 Community “Our Flash Mob” Performances
  • 4 youth selected to attend NAISDA dance camp
  • 2 Youth asked to apply for NAISDA to study dance


  • Increased local dance group participation
  • Elders and youth connecting
  • Increased dance skills
  • Immersion in culture for camp participants
  • Increased Aboriginal employment
  • Creation of a new dance
  • Engaged the wider community
  • Increased knowledge about local history and traditions


“I feel it’s really important to know your background and how to express it through dance. Cultural dancing is the main part of what I want to do. It’s our way of showing our culture as a group. It’s good and lots of fun.”
Myah Peters | Youth Participant

“We’re telling the story of how we were in the dreamtime and how we are today.”
Steve Donovan | Lead Dance Facilitator

“I like best about the camp was hearing the Elders talk about the things they have been through and about their knowledge culture.”
Youth Participant


Regional Arts NSW’s Regional Arts Fund


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