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Biddigal Dreaming

Rebecca Youdell discusses the production Biddigal Dreaming…

Biddigal Dreaming presented by Nintiringanyi Cultural Training Centre, Cairns Festival and the Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns is a benchmark for how the arts can mobilise culture for young people and Elders, while providing an “in” for the broader community to engage in a conversation, promoting tolerance and shared histories.

Biddigal Performing Arts is an Indigenous youth company sharing their century old stories with the blessing of Elders. Audiences experience their performances through an array of settings and contexts – in theatres, at cultural events, conferences, art fairs and festivals, in schools, with community and for family occasions.

At the heart of the creative work is the sense of family and the transference of knowledge between kin. It’s clear from seeing the performance work and artist talks that wrap up the 60-minute work that Biddigal is made up of young people with the ability to have a voice that contributes to the sharing of new ideas, while celebrating heritage and custom in a culturally appropriate way.

For the audience, an intimate and personal journey through oral histories of the Yidinji, Wiradjuri, Bundjalung and Girramay nations ranges from discord to harmony to the Blackbirding of Melanesian descendants. These stories, passed down through the generations, reflect Elders’ intimate storyline and cultural identity.

Through the expertise of Director Pauline Lampton, guidance of Biddigal’s cultural advisors and plethora of NAISDA graduates in Far North Queensland, this “sharing” sees the company going from strength to strength. It has been invited to travel around Australia and next year to the USA as cultural exchange ambassadors with First Nation peoples: the Bay Mills Chippewa Indian community – Anishanaabe three fires confederacy – Ojibwa, Odawa, Potawatomi Pokagon Indian communities.

The journey for Biddigal Dreaming started with a two-year creative development followed by several performance iterations, culminating in a New Move Network residency. The residency allowed the artists access to professional staging and production, utilising support from all tiers of government.

Underpinning Biddigal’s growth was the groundwork established through the TNQ Dance Strategy 2010-15 which saw support grow for the sector through the New Move Network activities of residencies, artist talks, performances and masterclasses hosted by Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns. As a consequence, Biddigal company members benefited by undertaking professional development through seeing the latest choreographic touring works, participating in the masterclass series and engaging with Indigenous fellowship recipient, Gary Lang, during NAIDOC week.

As tutor and mentor I’ve experienced the culture and uplifting interaction within Biddigal Performing Arts. Their work attracts respect from the community, tourists and locals alike who express enthusiasm for their honest appraisals of their stories. In particular I’ve learned much from the conversations between company members and their audiences in the public forums which accompany the performance presentations. It’s rewarding to see Biddigal’s young people mature, feel a valued part of the community and be empowered by their sense of identity.


Rebecca Youdell is a leading interdisciplinary practitioner. Her solo and collaborative works are for stage, gallery, screen, networked, interactive and site-specific contexts, with presentations, awards and commissions in Australia and internationally. Trained at the Royal Ballet School (UK) and Min Tanaka’s Body Weather Farm (Japan), with a BFA cum laude high honours (dance) USA and an MA (VPA) Aus, she works across multiple perspectives of media, with the physical actions and perceptions of the body as a consistent reference.

A former Royal Swedish Ballet Company member and recipient of The Australian Choreographic Centre Fellowship and the first interdisciplinary Asialink residency, Rebecca is a founding and ongoing member of the ecologically underpinned Bonemap: creative intermedia arts, est. 1998; was co-producer of On Edge Media + Performance festival, Cairns 2005-2009; curator LAPS: Live Art in Pubic Spaces; and is coordinator of the New Move Network 2011, and 2015-16. She contributed to the National Dance Forum Curatorial Panel, has undertaken consultancies and strategic planning for arts and educational institutions, is administrator for KickArts Contemporary Arts, a writer for Realtime, and a Cairns Regional Council Public Art Advisory Committee member. Projects are archived on


Feature image: photo Mimi Tannaka, dancer Tahlia Burchill from Biddigal Dreaming.