Milpirri - Jurntu 2018


Lajamanu, Tanami Desert

Milpirri is based upon a relationship between Tracks Dance Company and Lajamanu community 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.

2018 Milpirri draws its material from the Warlpiri ceremony that teaches about law and justice. Themes: of Justice, Respect, Discipline and Responsibility. This year’s Milpirri is based on the Jurntu purlapa.  The 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 of the Jurntu ceremony describe how all Warlpiri people are bound by the law and must face the consequences of their actions. Kuruwarri (the law) explains the proper functioning of the world, including the correct way in which 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.

See some great portraits of the people involved with Milpirri over the years - Milpirri People

Milpirri Banners Home Page

In 2005 a series of sixteen, three-metre high banners were created as the backdrop to the first Milpirri performance. 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.

In 2018 we researched and gathered information contained within the context of the banners. Though a consultation process led by anthropologist Miles Holmes, we talked to families about the banner designs and their meaning, checking and crosschecking information, looking at dreaming designs and linking into knowledge gathered by other linguists, anthropologists, researchers and elders working in Lajamanu over the past decades.

Look out for the launch of the Milpirri Banner Home page later in the year

Milpirri Artifacts Project

The Milpirri Jurntu performance theme focuses on artefacts. Tracks is currently collaborating with the Lajamanu Warnayaka Arts Centre towards the making sets of Milpirri artefacts, boomerangs for the men and clap-sticks and dancing boards for the women.

Sixteen young women and nineteen young men have been active throughout the year painting sixteen sets of Milpirri artifacts which they will dance with in this year's Milpirri performance. They were supervised through the process by established Lajamanu artists. The artifacts were inspired by the Milpirri banners and they look fantastic.

Female Painters:
Mercia Napurrurla Lewis, Miranda Napurrurla Cooke, Felicia Napurrurla Lawson, Natalie Napurrurla Ross, Clarise Napaljarri Mcdonald, Sylvannia Nungarrayi Spencer, Erlinda Napaljarri Mcdonald, Valentine Napaljarri Mcdonald, Deandra Napanangka Burns, Gwenyth Napanangka Tasman, Lyndal Napangardi Dixon, Narlita Napanangka Robbo, Zindzi Nampijinpa Jigili, Tegan Nangala Patrick, Charlene Nangala Hargraves and Matrina Nangala Robertson

Supervising Female Elders:
Sonya Napaljarri Cooke, Elizabeth Nungarrayi Ross, Elma Nungarrayi McDonald, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert, Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Biddy Napanangka Timms, Judy Napangardi Martin and Nancy Nangala Watson

Male Painters:
Titus Jupururrla White, Lorenzo Jupururrla Lewis, Abraham Jupururrla Cook,  William Jakamarra Lewis, Bradley Jakamarra Rockman, Graham Japaljarri Mcdonald, William Jungarrayi Mcdonald, Derek Jungarrayi Ronson, Corey Jungarrayi Raymond, Duane Jungarrayi Gibson,  Brendan Jungarrayi Payton, Nicky Japanangka James, Demetrius Japanangka Sambo, Dylan Japanangka Gordon, Gerald Robbo Japanangka, William Jampijinpa Patrick, Micky Jangala Donnelly, Dion Jangala Anderson and Lazarus Jangala Hargraves

Supervising Male Elders:
William Jakamarra Lewis, Richard Japaljarri Payton, Clifford Jungarrayi Mcdonald, Steven Japanangka Dixon, Steve Jampijinpa Patrick

Thanks to Anna Spencer, Ralphie Japangardi Dixon, Gerald Jampijinpa Watson and Louisa Erglis from Warnayaka Arts Centre and the artefacts carvers from the Barkly region, particularly Joseph Williams

See photos of the men and their finished Boomerangs

See some photos of the women at work

Creative Team

Creative and Founding 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, assisted by Caleb Japanangka Patrick
Soundtrack Production: Marc Peckham and Rob Tremlett
Banner Designs: Read about and see the Milpirri Banners

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 Asia Pacific, Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation.

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, Mandela Yu. David McMicken, Tim Newth, 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



Saturday November 3, at Sunset

Lajamanu, Tanami Desert, Northern Territory

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