Aboriginal dance troupe takes show on the road
IPSWICH'S Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dancers are taking over the world, one stunning performance at a time.
The troupe of young indigenous dancers aged 10 to 25 will travel to Taiwan at the end of this month to represent Australia at the Global Indigenous Peoples Performing Arts Festival.
Eddie Ruska founded the troupe three decades ago to help steer the region's indigenous youth in the right direction.
Mr Ruska said at the time he had no idea the dancers would be where they were today.
"It's grown in leaps and bounds," he said.
Mr Ruska said he had seen generations of kids grow up in the troupe.
"I feel really proud when you see where they've come from and what they can do on stage," he said.
"It's so rewarding to see the impact it has on their lives."
Twelve dancers will spend two weeks in Taiwan to perform on the world stage.
"The troupe gives them a sense of identity so they can be proud," Mr Ruska said.
"It brings them back to their roots. Our program is also about drug and alcohol prevention.
"We have a rule that dancers can't be under the influence while performing and before they went to Taiwan they had to have not been under the influence for three months."
Over its 30-year history the troupe has toured France, Greece, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Korea, New Zealand and Holland, and has performed for the Queen.
Mr Ruska said the troupe was designed to educate people about Aboriginal history and culture.
"Often we feel more accepted when we perform overseas than we do in Australia," he said.
"That's something we're wanting to change."
He said the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dancers were about discipline and respect.
"Those ideals help them in life too," he said.
"A lot of the older fellas come back and now mentor the younger ones. We've grown from a humble group in Ipswich to a professional dance troupe that is recognised worldwide."