“This is larger than footy.” – Jordan Edwards, Dreamtime dancer, (Gunditjmara, Wathaurong, Arrente)
History was made at last year’s Dreamtime at the ‘G match, when eighteen young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers performed a War Cry.
In what has evolved into a tradition for the annual clash between Richmond and Essendon, a War Cry will feature in the pre-game ceremony for the 13th Dreamtime at the ‘G match this Saturday, May 27.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Cry dances are performed as both a welcome and a warning to visitors who enter their country. Each individual dance move has its own meaning, allowing dancers to express who they are and where they come from.
All Richmond Dreamtime dancers are Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) alumni and past participants of the Richmond Emerging Aboriginal Leadership (REAL) program. They are all Victorian based and aged between 18 and 21.
Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round celebrates the relationship between the game of Australian Rules Football and Indigenous Australia by connecting fans to Indigenous culture.
In 2011, Richmond became the first AFL club to wear a specially designed Indigenous Round guernsey – which has now been adopted by all 18 clubs. This celebration evolved when the War Cry dance was performed before the Dreamtime at the ‘G game in 2016, to further showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and its presence to this day as one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world.
Richmond forward Shane Edwards has been granted permission to wear the No. 67 guernsey this Saturday night, paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Australian Referendum.
“Coming from just having a Dreamtime guernsey about ten years ago to now having a War Cry before the game, I can’t wait to see where it’s going,” Edwards said.
Jordan Edwards, one of the Dreamtime dancers, spoke about the meaning behind this year’s War Cry dance.
“We developed this War Cry specifically for Richmond. This War Cry has a special connection to Richmond because of the Tiger,” Edwards said.
“We have our markings that represent different leadership. The white means you’re a boy just in training, but is also carried through your whole life. The yellow means to step up in leadership in your community. The red means the maturity and respect you’ve got where you’ve become one of the main leaders in your community.
“When we did the movements, we wanted to keep that southern connection. Down here in south-west Victoria, the eel is a significant animal to us. The eel travelled all through the Yarra so it was a journey animal. It represents the journey of us young fellas and Richmond as a Club.
“Bunjil the eagle, our creator spirit of Victoria, and the story of the Kulin Nation. He’s looking over us on the ‘G, looking over the boys on the game and looking over us on the War Cry.
“We do the Lagunta which is the term for the Tasmanian Tiger. It’s the first move looking through the grass, looking at our prey, and then we jump up at the end ready to pounce.”