Kungkarangkalpa Inma Alatjila Kuwari Palyani: Dancing the Seven Sisters Songline Today!

Diana James, Inawinytji Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The focus of this article is the cross-cultural translation space of bicultural bilingual performance of Inma, traditional Pitjantjatjara song and dance. The article structure reflects the two languages and cultural concepts of storytelling, song and dance in which the Kungkarangkalpa Inma—Seven Sisters performance was presented at the Centenary of Canberra Indigenous Festival in 2013. This method of bilingual bicultural translation of words, song, dance and choreography was intrinsic to the many acts of translation involved in communicating the power, passion and meaning of a traditional Indigenous Inma performance to a western city audience. Inma song and dance conveys the connectivity of people to their Tjukurpa, the Law and Dreaming of their country. The performance space of translation is one in which people choose to share their culture by performing it in language, written or spoken, song, dance or mime, and translation occurs through intermediaries with some knowledge of both cultures who translate each to the other. The authors acknowledge that the acts of translation involved in translocating the desert Inma to the Canberra stage and the presentation of this in the secondary formats of a dialogue at an academic conference and now in a written article are all abstractions from the real performance of meaning in country of the Tjukurpa. Translation is but a reflection of meaning, a narrowing of the breadth of cultural referends of language, time and place. In this case, through several portals: a condensed city performance, a film of this performance, an oral bilingual conference dialogue and now a written account. This article references these portals and incorporates direct and indirect bilingual speech and reflection in an attempt to convey the importance of Inma song and dance in the cross-cultural communication of Indigenous knowledge of country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-195
Number of pages17
JournalMusicology Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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