Ingham Daily Press

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Take a dance on me: Abergowrie troupe lead historic workshop at Victoria Plantation School

Dance would be a fine thing: Victoria Plantation students after their traditional dance workshop.

A GROUP of primary school students have been treated to a traditional dance workshop by young men from St Teresa’s College.

Children from Victoria Plantation School were visited by dancers from communities from across Queensland and the Torres Strait.

It is thought to be the first time that First Nations dancers have performed at the school, which opened in 1894.

Teacher aide Donna Panzenbock (51), who has worked at the school for 15 years, said: ‘We’ve never had this at our school.

‘It was wonderful for our students to see. I’ve lived here my whole life and that’s the first time I’ve seen it live.

‘I’ve seen it on tv before – but that’s the first time I’ve seen it live.’

Long-term Victoria Plantation teacher aide Donna Panzenbock.

‘I loved how they [the dancers] spoke about the stories and how some of them came from their grandparents.

‘It just shows the respect they have. They showed great leadership.’

Victoria Plantation students Noah Santo and Angel Savell opened the event by acknowledging the Nwagi, Warrgamay and Bandjin peoples as the traditional owners of Hinchinbrook Shire.

After witnessing a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait performances, pupils were invited up to dance.

Donna added: ‘Some of those [Victoria Plantation] year 6s are tough. They don’t do that sort of stuff.

‘But they were eager to join in. It was really good learning for our students.

‘We don’t see this. We only see it on tv.’

Teacher aide Donna Panzenbock with Abergowrie men Seriba Tabuai, who is from Sabai Island in the Torres Strait, and Jahrahn Neale-Yeatman, from Yarrabah.

Young First Nations men from Yarrabah, Lockhart River, Doomadgee and Mount Isa performed Aboriginal dances using a didgeridoo and clap sticks.

Students were asked to guess the names of the animals that had been portrayed and were taught traditional language names for crocodile, eagle and carpet python.

Torres Strait dancers from Sabai and Badu islands used traditional drums to perform choreographed stories.

The emerging cultural leaders are boarders at St Teresa’s College in Abergowrie, which is governed by Townsville Catholic Education.

The event was organised by Barbara Ratton, who is delivering a dance unit at the school.

Victoria Plantation Provisional School opened on 1 March 1894, becoming Victoria Plantation State School on 1 January 1909.

In the 2016 census Victoria Plantation had a population of 156 people.

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