Watched Ella (2016) from Amazon Prime
Directed by Douglas Watkin. With Stephen Page, David McAllister, Ella Havelka, Suzanne Duffy. In October 2012, Ella Havelka became the first Indigenous dancer to be invited into The Australian Ballet in its 50 year history. It was an announcement that made news headlines nationwide. A descendant of the Wiradjuri people, we follow Ella's inspirational journey from the regional town of Dubbo and onto the world stage of The Australian Ballet. Featuring intimate interviews, dynamic dance sequences, and a stunning array of archival material, this moving documentary follows Ella as she explores her cultural identity and gives us a rare glimpse into life as an elite ballet dancer within the largest company in the southern hemisphere.
Started watching for the ballet, stayed with hope for mnemotechny. I was generally disappointed on the second count.

Either Ms. Havelka didn’t want to personally, didn’t have permission to speak of it via elders, or she didn’t know about some of the deeper uses of dance within her culture. It just wasn’t covered here at all. I’ve been fascinated by Lynne Kelly’s research programme and in particular I’m reading my way through her most recent text Songlines with Margo Neale about the uses of song, dance, and arts within indigenous cultures in Australia. I’m curious how much time she spent in country to learn what she did. Was it just a few weeks for some exposure, or was there a deeper learning experience? Is she passing that experience along to her students? Was some of it filmed, but lost in editing?

Presuming they’re not already acquainted, I suspect that Ella Havelka, Lynne Kelly, and Margo Neale might enjoy meeting and discussing dance, culture, arts, and teaching.

Ella Havelka did speak about the significance of her feather tattoo within her culture, so there was at least some representation of associative memory here. The comment was simply a passing one (and sadly focused on covering it up with makeup to hide it for ballet). The discussion of the feather just didn’t connect with the greater body of knowledge I’m sure is hiding just behind it.

I was a bit proud that my 9 year old ballet enthusiast wasn’t able to discern what made Ella different despite that being a large part of the story arc. Still she enjoyed the dancing and journey anyway.

Note: This film was renamed Ballerina for airing via Amazon Prime.

Rating: ★★★½

Liked a tweet by National Museum of Australia (Twitter)
Earlier this evening I bought a copy of Neale & Kelly’s new book Songlines: The Power and Promise (First Knowledges), so obviously I can’t wait for this exhibition to come to the US! Perhaps LACMA might pick it up?
Acquired Songlines: The Power and Promise (First Knowledges) by Margo Neale, Lynne Kelly (Thames & Hudson)

Songlines are an archive for powerful knowledges that ensured Australia's many Indigenous cultures flourished for over 60,000 years. Much more than a navigational path in the cartographic sense, these vast and robust stores of information are encoded through song, story, dance, art and ceremony, rather than simply recorded in writing.

Weaving deeply personal storytelling with extensive research on mnemonics, Songlines: The Power and Promise offers unique insights into Indigenous traditional knowledges, how they apply today and how they could help all peoples thrive into the future. This book invites readers to understand a remarkable way for storing knowledge in memory by adapting song, art, and most importantly, Country, into their lives.

About the series: The First Knowledges books are co-authored by Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers; the series is edited by Margo Neale, senior Indigenous curator at the National Museum of Australia.

Forthcoming titles include: Design by Alison Page & Paul Memmott (2021); Country by Bill Gammage & Bruce Pascoe (2021); Healing, Medicine & Plants (2022); Astronomy (2022); Innovation (2023).

I bookmarked this earlier in the year, but noticed this afternoon that it had been released yesterday. I bought a copy immediately so I can start reading it this evening after dinner. I’ve got high hopes for it with respect to memory and anthropology. 

It’s only available for shipment from Australia at the moment, so I opted to purchase it from Amazon in digital form so I could start reading it right away.

Read Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters (National Museum of Australia | nma.gov.au)

Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters was an Aboriginal-led exhibition that took visitors on a journey along the epic Seven Sisters Dreaming tracks, through art, Indigenous voices and innovative multimedia and other immersive displays.

Previously on show at the National Museum of Australia, 15 September 2017 to 28 February 2018

I would liked to have seen this exhibition. Hopefully it will travel.
Read Songlines: the power and promise by Lynne Kelly (Lynne Kelly)
The last 5 months have been flat-chat working on a new book at the invitation of Margo Neale who is the Head of Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Senior Indigenous Curator & Advisor to the D…
Can’t wait to read this. Created a stub version of it on Goodreads.com to remind me when it comes out.