Nyapanyapa (OUR land people stories)

Get Moving | Nyapanyapa

  • North East Arnhem Land, Yirrkala
  • Choreography, Highlights

Join Bangarra Dance Artists Beau Dean Riley Smith, Lillian Banks and Gusta Mara and learn a fun movement phrase inspired by the section titled 'Niblets' from Stephen Page's 2016 production, Nyapanyapa, a work about Yolŋu Artist Nyapanyapa Yunipingu.

For First Nations people, dance and visual art is a knowledge tool, enabling the cognitive, the visceral and the physical to 'wire' into understanding and memory formation.

The production Nyapanyapa, is inspired by Artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu's visual art paintings. One of those paintings is titled 'Niblets', which means “too much humbug”. ‘Humbug’ is a word that refers to the times when you annoy or pester someone too much. It’s a big part of Indigenous life, and is tied to the First Nations' kinship systems and cultural protocols. These systems do not place importance on the building of individual wealth but rather the sharing of work and resources amongst the community. To learn more about Yolŋu cultural philosophies and the practice of Artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, you might want to listen to this fascinating interview: Yarn time with Will Stubbs in Yirrkala.

In 'Niblets', you will see the dancers using Indigenous sign language or gestures. In many Communities, such signing is a way of respectfully communicating with others while conserving energy and not attracting too much attention or creating shame. We invite you to learn some of these motifs and gestures.

Bangarra also offers a modified version of this dance as an option so that anyone can participate. Dance is a universal language and is for everyone.

We acknowledge and pay our respects to Nyapanyapa Yunupingu and the Yolŋu people, whose Country and stories have inspired Nyapanyapa.

This video is divided into 4 sections.

  1. Introduction and preparation

Bangarra Dance Artist Beau Dean Riley Smith, along with fellow Bangarra dancers Lillian Banks and Gusta Mara, will guide you through a simple, short warm up to ensure your body is ready to move. It is really important that you prepare your body for dancing!

Born in Dubbo and growing up on the South Coast of New South Wales, Beau is a proud Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi man from the Wiradjuri Nation of Central New South Wales. Lillian is a Yawuru woman from Broome, Western Australia and Gusta is an Angamudthi, Atembiya, Goba, Argun and Wagadthagum man from the tip of Queensland and the western islands of the Torres Straits and grew up on the South Coast of New South Wales in Culburra Beach on Yuin Country.

Please note: this activity has been modified to suit small rooms. Ensure you have clear space to move around in, that the surface you are on is smooth but not slippery and that you are wearing comfortable clothes. For the warm up, you might like to have something secure beside you to hold on to in order to assist with balance, such as the back of a stable chair.

2. Learn a section of ‘Niblets’ – Beau will teach you some movement motifs from 'Niblets' by slowly breaking it down – step-by-step - so that you can practise it slowly and learn it well. Feel free to explore embodying these gestures in your own way.

3. Time to Dance - Now is your chance to dance the whole phrase, thinking about the motivations behind the choreography and using your imagination to tell the story of 'Niblets'.


Video footage of choreographic material and song lyrics included in Bangarra Dance Theatre online publication is copyright (Copyright Act 1968). Content of this online publication may be used for public viewing in the interest of learning and personal creative use. You may not use the content for any purpose other than as specified above without the express written consent of Bangarra Dance Theatre, and relevant third party copyright holders.

Please understand that when participating in this activity you are responsible for your own safety, and discharge Bangarra Dance Theatre from any and all claims or cause of action, known or unknown, arising out of participation. You are responsible for ensuring a safe dance space free from potential dangers. Participants should be aware of physical limitations and agree not to exceed them.