Milpirri - Jurntu 2018


Lajamanu, Tanami Desert

Milpirri is based upon a relationship between Tracks Dance Company and the community of Lajamanu that began in 1988. It exemplifies how long-term relationships are vital to creative, collaborative, heritage-making. It is an intergenerational, bilingual, bicultural event designed to bring Warlpiri, and non-Warlpiri together to “enliven tradition for an intercultural twenty-first-century future” - Steve Jampijinpa Patrick.

“Milpirri is one of the most successful community arts collaborations today, modelling new trajectories for the arts industry and professional partnership. It is also one of the industry’s least well-known initiatives (at least, to the broader, non- Warlpiri, public) because it remains radically site-specific. Lajamanu is the northernmost Warlpiri community (technically situated on Gurindji country) of approximately five-hundred people, located in the Tanami Desert, 950 kilometers south of Darwin. For one night only, every two years, Milpirri brings the whole Lajamanu community together in a spectacular high theatrical performance in Lajamanu itself.” - Dr Jennifer Biddle -University of NSW.

Watch this edit of the documentary Winds of Change and learn about the Making of Milpirri.

Milpirri Themes

2018 Milpirri draws its ideas from the Warlpiri ceremony (the Jurntu Purlapa) which teaches about law and justice. The public Jurntu performance teaches a story about kuruwarri (the law) that was given to a woman, Jangiya (Liddy) Nakamarra, in the 1950s or 1960s. It is based on real events that occurred in the late 1800s or early 1900s, concerning a man who committed a very serious crime.

The themes: Justice, Respect, Discipline, and Responsibility describe how all Warlpiri people are bound by the law and must face the consequences of their actions. Kuruwarri explains the proper functioning of the world, including the how humans should relate to each other and the world around them, as given to Warlpiri people through the Jukurrpa, rather than a set of rules designed and constantly modified by humans to regulate society.

These themes are matched with songs, stories and metaphors related to traditional Warlpiri artefacts. For example, boomerangs symbolise respect, digging sticks symbolise the search for knowledge, and the stone axe is a mark of responsibility.

Read more about this years themes, artefacts and their meaning.

Learn about the Making of the Milpirri Soundtrack.


Manyi Manyi - rememberance (Brush Banners with leaves - Male and female dancers and stand with fire sticks in front of the Banners - Community Members)
Opening up Milpirri - The Stone Knife (Japaljarri, Jungarrayi)

Yellow Group
Yinirnti (Coral Bean seed) Dance - Women (Napaljarri, Nungarrayi)
Wiringarri (Barn Owl) - Men (Japaljarri, Jungarrayi)
Respect Dance - Youth

Blue Group
Kurruwa (Stone Axe) - Men (Jangala, Jampijinpa)
Ngapa - Mardu (Water Carrier) - Women (Nangala, Nampijinpa)
Responsibility Dance - Youth

Red Group
Wampana (Spectacled Hare Wallaby) - Men (Jupurrula, Jakamarra)
Ngurrlu (Seed and Grinding Stone) - Women (Napurrula, Nakamarra)
Justice Dance - Youth

Green Group
Wadapi (Goanna) Dance - Women (Japangardi, Japanangka)
Wadapi (Goanna) Dance - Men (Napangardi, Napanangka)
Discipline Dance - Youth

Wantarri-tarri (Milky Way) - Men and Women (Green and Yellow adults group dance)
Colour Group Dance - Youth finale
Tall Fire Lights Wantarri-tarri (Milky Way) and Fire Sculpture Yankirri (Flying Emu) - Men and women

Milpirri Properties 

Sixteen young women and nineteen young men were active throughout the year painting sixteen sets of Milpirri boomerangs, dancing boards and clap-sticks which will be utilised in this year's Milpirri - Jurntu performance. They were supervised through the process by established Lajamanu artists.

Tracks collaborated with the Lajamanu Warnayaka Arts Centre towards the making of boomerangs for the men and clap-sticks and dancing boards for the women, inspired by the Milpirri banners.

Milpirri Banners

In 2018 we researched and gathered information contained within each banner and created the Milpirri Banners Home Page. We are excited to develop this digital 'keeping place' for the wealth of Australian knowledge found within the Warlpiri culture.

It began in 2005 with a series of sixteen, three-metre high banners which were created as the backdrop to the first Milpirri performance and in 2012 another eleven banners were added. The banners are like a set of coat of arms to the Warlpiri people of Lajamanu. Each individual is able to identify which banner belongs to them as they represent their family's dreaming symbol.

Through a consultation process led by anthropologist Miles Holmes, we talked to families about the banner designs and their meaning, checking and crosschecking information. We looked at dreaming designs and linking into knowledge gathered by other linguists, anthropologists, researchers and elders working in Lajamanu in the past.

Explore the Milpirri Banner Home page.

Creative Team

Creative Director: Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick
Warlpiri Cultural Adviser/ Elder: Jerry Jangala Patrick
Artistic Directors: Tim Newth, David McMicken
Traditional Choreography: Lajamanu Elders
Youth Choreography: Kelly Beneforti, Aaron Lim
Soundtrack Production: Marc Peckham with Kelly Beneforti and Rob Tremlett

Read about how the 2018 Milpirri Soundtrack was made.


Male Singers: Jerry Jangala Patrick, Henry Jakamarra Cooke, Teddy Japanangka Dixon.
Female Singers: Myra Nungarrayi Herbert , Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Judy Napangardi Martin, Lynette Napangardi Tasman, Molly Napurrula Tasman.

Yellow Group
Female Dancers: Biddy Nungarrayi Jurrah, Marjorie Nungarrayi Gibson, Beth Nungarrayi Barnes, Peppa Napaljarri Tippet, Anna (Nungarrayi) Spencer (Art Centre), Barbara (Nungarrayi) Glowczewski (Anthropologist).

Male Dancers: Brendon Jungarrayi Payton, Waylon Jungarrayi Hudson, Corey Jungarrayi Raymond, Rowan Jungarrayi Jurrah, Michael Jungarrayi Payton.
Leader: Roger Japaljarri Jurrah.

Female Youth Dancers: Azaleah Napaljarri Lewis, Zackalina (Kunja) Nungarrayi Dixon, Fiona Napaljarri Payton, Jimmelia Napaljarri George, Chenara Napaljarri Jurrah, Janine Nungarrayi Penn, Lucy Napaljarri Rose, Athelita Nungarrayi Dixon, Tenneal Napaljarri Lake, Prestina Napaljarri Spencer, Raphayelia Napaljarri Kelly, Nora Nungarrayi Jurrah, Zakeyia Napaljarri McDonald.

Male Youth Dancers: Joseph Japaljarri Burns, Lindsay Jungarrayi Herbert, Vincent Japaljarri McDonald, David Jungarrayi Brown, Conway Jungarrayi Herbert, Thelonious Japaljarri Rose, Morgan Jungarrayi Farquharson.

Blue Group
Female Dancer: Nita Nampijinpa Patrick, Lavah Nangala Tasman, Angela Nangala Kelly, Leisha Nampijinpa Patrick, Ruth Nangala Jigili, Jennifer (Nangala) Burkes (Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation - WYDAC). Elder: Liddy Nampijinpa Miller.
Workers: Patsy Nangala Herbert, Annette Nampijinpa Patrick.

Male Dancer: Kane Jampijinpa Kelly, Tony Jampijinpa Sampson, Kealyn Jampijinpa Kelly, Ricky Jampijimpa Sampson, Jepidia Jampijimpa Patrick, Keanu Jampijimpa Kelly, Jason Jampijimpa Patrick, Edmond Jangala Kelly, Anthony (Jampijimpa) Johnson (Council)
Worker: Steve Jampijinpa Patrick, Henry Jampijinpa Burns.

Female Youth Dancers: Seivera Nampijinpa Robertson, Jasmine Nampijinpa Burns, Vicky Nampijinpa Robertson, Zaphaniah Nampijinpa Robertson, Mikeisha Nampijinpa Burns, Jaylene Nampijinpa Burns, Trixie Nampijinpa Kelly, Winona Nampijinpa Burns, Russellisha Nampijinpa Burns, Zarifah Nampijinpa Hargraves, Raelene Nangala Jigili

Male Youth Dancers: Bobby Jampijinpa Leo, Mark Jampijinpa Rose, Akeam Jampijinpa Gordon, Shem Jampijinpa Jurrah, Jamien Jangala Tilmouth, Jude Jangala Jigili, Chris Jangala Moora, Morgan Farquharson

Red Group
Female Dancers: Laura Nakamarra Doolan, Belinda Nakamarra Baker, Melinda Napurrula Simon, Katrina Nakamarra Andrews, Barbara (Lisa) Nakamarra Morrison, Cassie (Nakamarra) Nugent (WYDAC).
Worker: Audrey Nakamarra Baker.

Male Dancers: Jake Jakamarra Patterson, Kiriath Jupurrula Patterson, Lyndon Jupurrula Gordon, Lincoln Jupurrula Cooke, Jacko Jakamarra Gordon, Clive (Jakamarra) Liebman.

Female Youth Dancers: Narelle Napurrula Patterson, Irene (Lizzie) Nakamarra Gordon, Kiendra Nakamarra Lewis, Trisvina Nakamarra Lewis, Natalia Nakamarra Nelson, Cassandra Nakamarra James, Alzara Nakamarra Cooke, Estella Nakamarra Gordon, Liza Nakamarra Patterson

Male Youth Dancers: Jonas Jakamarra Cook, Edmond Jakamarra Gordon, Casimir Jakamarra James, Joe Jupurrula Walker, Keith Jakamarra Gordon, Romelle Jakamarra Lawson, Bradleyius Jupurrula Rockman, Simeon Jupurrula Ross, Roman Jupurrula Simon, Romanus Jakamarra Lawson, Leo Jupurrula Patterson, Alex Jupurrula Dixon, Keron Jakamarra Lawson

Green Group
Female Dancers: Biddy Napangardi Raymond, Denise Napangardi Tasman, Ursula Napangardi Marks, Agnes Napanangka Donnelly, Christine (Napangardi) Reid (Central Lands Council).

Male Dancers: Shaun Japanangka Johnson, Tarkyn Japangardi Tasman, Japeth Japangardi Tasman, Josiah Japangardi Dixon, Keran Japangardi Rex, Nicholas Japangardi Johnson, Vincent Japangardi Dixon, Devon Japanangka Marks.
Leader: Maxwell Japanangka Tasman.

Female Youth Dancers: Sheniel Napangardi Simons, Darline Napangardi Dixon, Charlita Napanangka Poulson, Dylena Napanangka Robertson, Sarafina Napanangka Marks, Leah Napanangka James

Male Youth Dancers: Fabian Japanangka Dixon, Zedakhyus Japanangka Rex, Denzel Japangardi Tasman, Jallara Japanangka Johnson, Leevon Japanangka Simon, Martin Japanangka Johnson, Jezeniah Japanangka Poulson

Sound Track

Voiceovers: Roger Japaljarri Jurrah, Steve Jampijinpa Patrick, Jerry Jangala Patrick, Liam Jangala Patrick, Walter Jangala Wesley, Matthew Jakamarra Patterson, Shaun Japanangka Johnson, Max Japanangka Gordon

Song vocals: Lajamanu school Year 4/5 (Respect), Year 5/6 (Responsibility), Year 7/8/9 (Justice), and Year 3/4/5 with Agnes Napanangka Donnelly (Discipline)

Production and Promotions Personnel

Producers: Tracks Dance Company
Company Director: Adelaide Wood
Administrator: Jessica Mellor
Production Manager: Duane Preston
Production Technician: Mathew McHugh
Assitant Production Technician: Michael McHugh and Miki Ensbey
Milpirri Image and Design: Mark Marcelis
Graphic Design: Narelle Sullivan
Photo Documentation: Peter Eve
DVD Production: People Pictures
Editing: Cath South
Camera: Stewart Carter
Evaluation Consultant: Alan Marshall

Thank You

Central Lands Council Rangers, Kurdiji group, Learning Centre, Staff of: Lajamanu School, Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC), Central Desert Regional Council, Central Lands Council, Warnayaka Arts Centre, Lajamanu Store, Activities Centre, Government Engagement Centre, Northern Territory Police, Lajamanu Health Clinic, and the many families and people that call Lajamanu home who have helped in the making of Milpirri.

Company Partners

Tracks Inc is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

Project Partners

Australian Government through Building Better Regional Fund (BBRF), Newmont Australia, Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation, Lajamanu Store.

Supporting Partners

Central Desert Shire, Warlpiri Education and Training Trust, Warnayaka Arts Centre, Mount Theo Youth Program (WYDAC), Lajamanu School.

Tracks 2018

Artistic Co-Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
Company Director: Adelaide Wood
Administrator: Jessica Mellor
Production Manager: Duane Preston
Dance Animateur: Kelly Beneforti
Bookkeeper: It Figures

Committee Members: Mary Durack (Chairperson), Glenn Bernardin (Treasurer), Michael Grant, David Taylor, Ken Conway, Venaska Cheliah, Sudha Coutinho, and Mandela Yu. David McMicken, Tim Newth, and Adelaide Wood (Ex-Officio Members)

Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Ippei Okazaki

Patron: Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AM, Administrator of the Northern Territory




“The joy expressed by all generations who performed is enough to legitimize the continuation of the Milpirri project. Some people I talked to afterwards, especially the visitors from Yuendumu, were very enthusiastic at the fact that the night was not a Kardiya (whiteman) controlled festival or show but an intertwining of decisions in the making which created the same atmosphere as some Warlpiri ceremonies where things are decided in a collective dynamic as the rituals unfold.”  Barbara (Nungarrayi) Glowczewski (French Anthropologist)

“The values and activities undertaken to prepare for and undertake the Milpirri performance fits exactly with that of the CLC Ranger Program. To look after culture is to look after country and people too.“  Christine (Napangardi) Reid (CLC Indigenous Protected Area Coordinator)

“Milpirri helps with teaching the proper way. Young people don’t really know, even old people don’t really know, we need Milpirri.”  Elizabeth Nungarrayi  Ross (Warlpiri Painter & Kurdiji Group Member)

“It was really good, getting involved, make us a little bit happy and proud. Good to see all the Kardiya people brush the banners, that’s good every one help celebration, Kardiya and Yapa, and the kids were really good.” Robyn Napaljarri Payton (Warlpiri Painter)

“Good the whole community came together. Everyone very proud. Really good to learn some culture, to carry it on after elders no longer here.”  Jake Jakamarra Patterson (Young Adult Dancer)

“We don’t want that Milpirri to go down, we need it to keep lifting up.” Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Elder, Warlpiri Painter, Singer)

“Milpirri took people to a different perspective and different ways to see things not just family, and we need to do this as family, but it taught the whole community to live life and do life together, and that was due to Milpirri.”  Jennifer (Nangala) Burke (WYDAC Youth Worker)

“Milpirri means a lot to the community. Learning about your culture, learning about your family, learning about everything really about life, being strong and understanding where you standing.”  Katrina Nakamarra Andrew (Community Liaison Officer, Lajamanu School)

“I really loved Milpirri, it was fantastic. We come out to the community regularly so it was really great to get to experience an aspect of community which we don’t get to see very much when we come out here. It adds a little bit to understanding of what’s important to the people out here and what things are like.”  Johnathan Hall-Spence (Civil Law Solicitor, NAAJA Katherine)

“Milpirri helped us to learn more about making of shields, boomerangs and that sort of stuff, is going down hill so got to keep on doing it.”  Donald River (North Tanami Ranger)

“Kids good, yeah really good. Emu burning mutju (good).” Biddy Nungarrayi Long (Warlpiri Painter)

“It was fantastic, absolutely amazing, I absolutely loved it. It was great to see a community come together and the kids were amazing as well and for them to remember the dances and get up and have a good time was great.”  Sue (Administation Officer Lajamanu School)

“The kids were great and especially on the night there was so many kids, we got everybody nearly, so that was a real positive, and bringing it together with seeing the families there supporting the kids and so many outsiders come as well, so it was great.”  Tracy (Nampijinpa) Dargan (Curriculum Coordinator)

“When so many of the Kardiya were brushing the banners, even the men were quiet watching them all coming through. It is things like that, that helps Milpirri to become stronger.” Wanta Steve Jampijinpa Patrick (Creative Director)

” … does a lot of work throughout the Kimberley and has seen a lot of communities that do activities, says you are lucky to get a handful of kids that will come out the front. He has never, ever seen a whole stage full of young kids doing that. It is in itself a phenomenon.” David (Japaljarri) McMicken, (Artistic Director)

“… the beautiful and generous show resulting from the long term collaboration between some Warlpiri families and Tim, David and his Tracks team, allowed the emergence of the deep spirit of a ritual”  Barbara (Nungarrayi) Glowczewski (French Anthropologist)

Explore Futher

Making of Milpirri
Watch this short edit of documentary, Winds of Change.

What does the word Milpirri mean and why is the performance called Milpirri. Click to read.

What are colour groups?
Learn how the colours are linked to the Warlpirri kinship groupings.

Milpirri People
Portraits of those who have been involved in Milpirri over the years. You will also find a full list of performances and projects created by Lajamanu and Tracks artists since 1988.

History of Tracks in Lajamanu
Read about our long-term relationship and history.

The paper Ngurra-kurlu explores how we can find a sense of home within ourselves by acknowledging Land, Law, Ceremony, Language and Kinship/family. Read now.

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