WHILE this year’s referendum was a hot topic amongst Elders and Traditional Owners at this year’s Laura Quinkan Dance Festival, it was ultimately the performances that wowed the spectators.
Over a dry and dusty three days, it was Pormpuraaw’s dance group who was crowned champions, with their traditional troupe winning the hearts and minds of judges.
It was a close contest and the reigning champions, the Lockhart River Kawadji Wimpa group, had to settle for runner-up.
Led by mayor Wayne Butcher, the Lockhart dancers were a crowd favourite and won huge applause as they handed over the shield on Saturday.
Third place went to the Coen-based Allkumo Malpa Paman group, which brought their unique cultural expressions to the stage, leaving the audience spellbound.
The encouragement award went to Ngabi Bama Irriba-mu from Yarrabah.
Weipa resident Jamie West said he was stunned by the quality of the performances.
“This was my first time going to Laura and I didn’t know what to expect. We had heard positive things but I thought the dancers were outstanding,” he said.
“It was quite a political weekend, as you could imagine. There was a lot of support for The Voice and plenty of discussion on what the referendum result will be later this year.”
A spokesperson for the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival praised the visiting dance groups and the large number of tourists who created a lively atmosphere.
“We extend our gratitude to all the participating groups, performers, organisers, and the entire community for making this festival a resounding success,” she said.
“Your commitment to preserving and celebrating Indigenous cultures is truly remarkable and deserves our utmost admiration.
“As the curtains close on this year’s Laura Quinkan Indigenous Dance Festival, we reflect on the power of dance as a medium for cultural expression, storytelling, and unity.
“The memories created and the connections formed will endure, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures for years to come.
“Thank you to everyone who joined us on this incredible journey of celebration, respect, and cultural exchange.”