Milpirri Symposium 2023


The Milpirri Symposium

The Milpirri Symposium was presented by Lajamanu community members and Tracks Dance as part of the 2023 Darwin Festival Milpirri Sensorium.  

The two-day Milpirri Symposium invited audience participation in workshops and discussions on the history of the northern Warlpiri biennale celebration Milpirri.

Milpirri was developed by Creative and Founding Director Wanta Steve Patrick Jampijinpa, in conjunction with Tracks Dance Artistic Directors Tm Newth and David McMicken.  Milpirri brings together Warlpiri traditional Jardiwarnpa, Purlapa and Yawulyu with contemporary rock, break dance and hip hop. The focus is on intergenerational and intercultural knowledge exchange and renewal, with performances of song and dance taking stage on country, by and for Warlpiri, every two years. 

Tracks Dance and community members of Lajamanu in the North Tanami Desert have been in a creative relationship for 35 years.  Milpirri grew from this relationship and was first performed formally in Lajamanu in 2005.  As Wanta Jampijinpa explains, “Milpirri is a Warlpiri way to get country to express itself” or “How to make Jukurrpa [the Dreaming] relevant for a 21st Century future” According to Jampijinpa, the concept of ngurra-kurlu (the home within) underpins Milpirri and consists of five key interrelated elements:  “Land, Law, Language, Kinship and Ceremony. Once we lose these elements, we become homeless, in a place we call home.” 

Research background for this event is supported in part by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects (LP190100552) and UNSW. 

Tuesday 15th - Sharing Warlpiri Knowledge Across Generations.   

How does Milpirri combine the old and the new? How has Warlpiri people's traditional practice transformed into hip-hop and contemporary song and dance? This session takes the form of a guided conversation featuring Warlpiri traditional owners, and Tracks staff who have been involved in producing Milpirri work in Lajamanu. The audience saw versions of Milpirri Yawulyu dances, and heard the stories behind them from the Warlpiri Elders present in the room.

Lajamanu Traditonal Owners: Wanta Steve Jampijnpa Patrick, Myra Nungarrayi Herbert (Patrick), Agnes Napanangka Donnelly, Judy Napangardi Martin, Miranda Napurrula Donnelly, Ursula Napangardi Marks, Kitty Napanangka Simon

Wednesday 16th - Kinship, Belonging, Relationships  

The basis of Milpirri is Warlpiri kinship.  How does Milpirri use colour to represent kinship vitality and belonging through design, staging and performance?

Wanta Steve Patrick Jampijinpa conducted this workshop, followed by facilitated conversations between Jampijinpa and Tracks and Milpirri Artistic Directors Tim Newth and David McMicken in a discussion about their 35-year artistic and cultural relationship.

The Symposium was attended by National and International guests, community members from Lajamanu and Yuendemu, and supported by researchers Professor Jennifer Biddle and Dr Sudiipta Dowsett.


When and Where

Tuesday, August 15 
Wednesday, August 16 
9 am -12.00 pm - at
Tracks Dance Studio - Ground Floor Harbour View Plaza. 8 McMinn Street Darwin

Each day begins at 9 am with a meet and greet, followed by the workshop.

$50 full  - $30 Concession per day
Free for First Nations people.


Project Partner

Newmont Australia
Darwin Festival

Tracks 2023

Artistic Director: David McMicken
Associate Artistic Director: Jess Devereux
Creative Producer: Britt Guy
Production Manager: Duane Preston
Dance Animateurs: Kelly Beneforti and Steph Spillett
Administrator: Debbie Micairan
Bookkeeper: It Figures
Auditors: Brian Tucker Audit

Committee Members: Chairperson: Max Dewa Stretton. Treasurer: Glenn Bernardin. Ordinary Members: Andrea Wicking, David Taylor, Ken Conway, Lachlan Peattie, Rachael Wallis, Anna Lindsay, Venaska Cheliah. Ex-Officio: David McMicken

Public Fund Trustees: Maari Gray and Michael Grant

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