The Descendance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dance Theatre was born from the mighty Ngaru Dance Company, Sydney’s first professional independent traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dance troupe established in 1993, Ngaru meaning “shake a leg”, a dance style prevalent in the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. Ngaru had been one of the longest running professional Indigenous dance troupes in Australia before changing their name to “Descendance” in the year 2000 to account for the many artists from diverse tribes living in Sydney and joining the company.
The motto being, “One people fighting a common cause”.
Sean Choolburra originally formed Ngaru in Sydney in 1993; Sean was born in Townsville in North Queensland and has a background from three Aboriginal tribes, “Girrma” from Tully (Father’s side) “Kalkadoon” from Mount Isa (Mother’s side) and “Kuku-Yalanji” from Cook town (Grandfather’s side).
In 1998 Ngaru came under the guidance of the late great Aboriginal song woman Imelda Willis and
world music pioneer and producer Jose Calarco. Imelda came down from the serene seaside Aboriginal mission of “Yarrabah” in North Queensland on the invitation of Sean Choolburra, Imelda took on cultural duties for twelve months before her untimely death in 1999 (may she rest in peace).
Imelda was a gifted songwriter and enhanced the Descendance repertoire with some of her original works, Imelda encouraged indigenous youths living in the city to try to make something of their lives by rediscovering their cultural heritage. Imelda’s customs came from two tribes “Kandju” in Cape York and “Yidindji “ in Cairns both situated in North Queensland, Descendance was born out of her loving memory to create an independent vehicle and indigenous network for artists without proper support or funding, today her daughter Nicole Willis and Song Man Ronaldo Guivarra assume her legacy.