In Song and Dance


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1964, 25 Minutes

A fly on the wall documentary about the 1964 Northern Territories Eisteddfod, held in Darwin in the Northern Territory.

In 1964, communities from all over the Northern Territory sent performers to compete in the annual Eisteddfod - an amateur contest for choral groups, dancers and musicians. The host city of Darwin became a meeting place for men, women and children to show off their skills and culture. Tiwi Islanders and the Yolngu from far-off Yirrkala in Arnhem Land joined the children of Chinese-Australian citizens and inland cattle farmers, who, with the Centralian rough riders and desert people, talked together in English - the only tongue they had in common. But in song and dance they shared a language which people everywhere can understand.

Included in the program of this unique and internationally renowned festival were adults’ and children’s choirs, whose song selections included rousing renditions of the Australian unofficial anthem Waltzing Matilda. Also thrilling the audiences were Aboriginal traditional songs and dances; didgeridoo selections; jazz ensembles; solo guitar pieces; classical piano recitals and children’s ballet performances.

In Song and Dance documents the rehearsals and captures the electric atmosphere which surrounded the performers as they prepared for seven days and nights of competition. Filmed with great sensitivity, this black and white documentary neatly captures a slice of 20th century Northern Territory amateur, performing arts history.

An Australian National Film Board Production. A Commonwealth Film Unit Production by Waratah Film Productions for the Department of Territories. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Director/Writer: Lee Robinson

Featured People: Professor Frank Hutchens, Colin Worumbu Ferguson

Year: 1964

Running Time: 25 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: Indigenous Studies; English K-10 'Insights into Aboriginal experiences in Australia'; Music, Culture and Society; Beliefs and Values; Contemporary Australian Society; English; HSIE/SOSE.


Country Outcasts

Aboriginal Dance

Dances at Aurukun

SKU 000180500
Brand Film Australia

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