Banaban Traditional Dancing

Banaban dancing today on Rabi

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Dancing is one of the most important aspects of Banaban Culture. Banaban history has been passed down over the generations in an oral form by Banaban Elders. The other form of recording major events in Banaban history is through Dance. The Cultural dances are clever snippets of these events displayed in a combination of singing, dancing and mime and are constantly updated to include more contemporary issues which effect the community today.

The tradition of the dance is strictly enforced, with costumes similar to those used over 100 years ago. A good example of this aspect of such detail is a dance called the - 'te Karanga' Stick Dance. Not only are the costumes kept similar, but the dance steps together with the old traditional Banaban language used in the dance are still used. Even though the meaning of the words are now lost the preservation of the dance in its original form is very exciting.


 Traditional- te Karanga costumes taken on Banaba in 1930's

The Banabans have long been considered one of the best dancing groups in the Pacific. Unfortunately in recent years due to the lack of finances they have been unable to compete or perform at other Pacific Dance competitions and events. The quality of these wonderful performers was not lost on the Australian Government when they were invited to perform at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Opera House in the 1970's.

In 1975, 25 dances accompanied the group on the 'HOMECOMING TRIP and performed throughout Tarawa. At the same time another 10 dances went on a Dance tour of Japan.


Here we see a photograph of the Banaban dances in  action on anaba in the late 1920's.  

Photo courtesy Harry Maude 1934

Here  Below are photographs from the recent 50th Celebrations on Rabi Island on the 15. December, 2008. You can see the women wearing the traditional Banaban headpieces that are adorned with Frigate bird feathers. Sadly frigate bird feathers are not available on Rabi island, so the Banabans travel by boat to other islands off the north coast off Fiji to gather  these prized feathers so the tradition of the birds is not lost.



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