Older Adults Home Page

Older Adults Home Page

Older Adults

Tracks has had a consistent focus on dancing and the older adult wherever we go. We believe that our elders hold valuable cultural information that only comes from age and experience. Their wisdom guides much of what we do, ensuring our focus on dance as a whole of life activity remains core to our thinking.

Giving voice to Northern Territory culture means creating work for, and about, all Territorians. Older Adults are often overlooked for the ‘younger’ models, and yet they hold such valuable knowledge, wisdom and know-how. When it comes to maintaining, developing and passing on culture to the younger generations, the role of the Older Adult is invaluable.

Some Northern Territorian Older Adults have access to information held within one of the oldest living cultures in the world.

Two Key Groups

Tracks has a long-term relationship with two key older adults dance groups: the Yawulyu ceremonial dancers from the remote Warlpiri Indigenous community of Lajamanu, (alongside the senior Warlpiri men), and the Grey Panthers over 60's Dance Troupe - Darwin and surrounding regions.

Myra Nungarrayi Herbert and Audrey Gorring - Lipstick and Ochre. Photo Mark Marcelis

Warlpiri Ceremonial Dancers

Lajamanu Yawulyu ceremonial women, and Pulapa senior men

In 1988 Tim Newth and Sarah Calver toured to Lajamanu as part of a Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre playwright tour. This is where the Lajamanu Yawulyu women first wanted to perform for them. The performing group stayed an extra day to accommodate this. This was the beginning of a long term relationship that continues to this day.

The women have always guided and supported the youth projects taking place in Lajamanu and Darwin. They have also performed in many Tracks shows, notably Lajamanu Kurra Karna Yani, the Fierce projects, Lipstick and Ochre, and The Cook, the Queen and the Kelly.


A particular relationship was also formed with a family with the European last name of Patrick. Tim began a strong artistic relationship with Freddy Janagala Patrick (dec.), a very senior lawman, in 1989. The senior men of this family were the owners of the Ngapa Jukurrpa (Rainstorm Dreaming) and the knowledge held within this Jukurrpa has guided much of our work, especially since 1996.  Once the Millpirri projects began in 2005 the Yawulyu women have been key artists, ensuring the traditional women’s dancing is ready, and the Senior male Elders ensure the content is still connected to law and culture.

The work through Lajamanu has led to working with Indigenous elders in other communities, namely: Groote Eylandt Residency - Wild Things (1997), Yipirinya School - From Little Things Big Things Grow (1992) and After The Rain (1995), Tiwi Island - Kukanarri Show (1998) and Olympic Flame (2000), and in Alice Springs - Janganpa (2003)

The Grey Panthers

As part of two larger community dance events, (Dance on Darwin  and Dance Feast - 1998) Program Director Sarah Calver and guest choreographer Beth Shelton noticed a distinct lack of people over the age of 50 being involved. Determined to make sure the performance was as representative as possible they encouraged a group of women over 50 to participate. After this performance, the women wanted to continue dancing and a weekly workshop became the norm. They became the Older Adults group of Darwin Dance Mob  - a series of community dance classes and workshops that catered for youth, Teenagers, young adults, and now seniors. This group has continued to the present day, taking the name The Grey Panthers in 1994.

The Grey Panthers exemplify the role of the Elder in contemporary Northern Territory Life, celebrating their 30th birthday in 2018.

Read a full History of the Grey Panthers

The Grey Panthers dance troupe perform regularly for special one-off events, in Darwin, Batchelor, Adelaide River, Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Alice Springs. Together they have written, designed and performed in 10 Full-length shows, as well as been guest performers for over 50 of Track’s major performances and events. In 2018 a rural chapter of the Grey Panthers began in the Coomalie region.

Profiles and Quotes

We don’t go to the doctor all the time. Friendship, happiness and movement is better than taking a pill – Glad Morris, Founding Member of the Grey Panthers (Dec)

“Whitefellas and blackfellas gotta stop standing back to back (back of hands held together) but instead we need to face each other and be friends (palms of hands held together) ” talking about Milpirri - Jerry Jangala Patrick (Warlpiri Elder). Find out more about Jerry Jangala within the Milpirri banners home page

"It has rekindled my interest in dance, giving me more self-confidence, and I thoroughly enjoy losing all my inhibitions when I perform in front of an audience". Jan Hastings - the Grey Panthers

“Those old ladies were crying...  that made us feel strong for our culture.” Myra Herbert Nungarrayi (Warlpiri Elder). Find out more about Mrya Nungarrayi within the Milpirri banners home page

Biddy Nungarrayi Long, Lily Nungarrayi Hargraves and Margaret Nungarrayi Martin - Lajamanu Yawulyu Dancers. Photo Peter Eve

“I come to dancing for me. It is my time to forget about everything else, and just be in the group. I love it.” Ellen Hankin, who has performed over 100 times with the Grey Panthers.

“I felt inspired when I found a group that celebrated and empowered elderly performers … I’ve formed some wonderful friendships. The camaraderie and support we have for each other will last a lifetime.” Marg Lee, a Grey Panther since 2004.

Grey Panthers - A Bowls Club Wedding. Photo Mark Marcelis

Lajamanu / Milpirri

The Lajamanu / Milpirri Home Page is full of links which will enable you to explore the richness and depth of this event and creative relationship between Tracks and Lajamanu.

Rosie Napurrula Tasman - Milpirri 2016. Photo Peter Eve
Biddy Napangardi Raymond, Margaret Nungarrayi Martin, Trevor Patrick - Fierce - The Story of Olive Pink. Photo Peter Eve
Crena Hemmings - You Dance Funny. Photo Peter Eve
Grey Panthers - Lipstick and Ochre. Photo Peter Eve

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.

Tracks Dance Company Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

Tracks Inc is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

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Warning: This website contains images and names of people who have passed away.