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Sandhill Crane (Brolga) Dreaming



If you have followed the unveiling of our upcoming album “Felices Días” you know how much nature inspires our music; body, mind, and spirit! This was especially true with the serendipitous appearance of a trio of sandhill cranes during our recording sessions. These messengers underscored and elevated the mission of our music, to raise ourselves and our fans to higher levels of awareness and appreciation of life!


The trio of sandhill cranes that visited us during recording (Video: David Cobb)


Their presence also reminded me of the Aboriginal dreamtime story of the brolga, sandhill cranes that live in the wetlands and plains of northern and eastern Australia. Dreamtime stories, or dreaming, is explained by the organization Aboriginal Art as the following:


Dreaming does not convey the fullness of the concept for Aboriginal people but is the most acceptable English word to Aboriginal people. The word is acceptable because very often revelations or insights are received in dreams or recurring visions. The Dreaming refers to all that is known and all that is understood. It is the way Aboriginal people explain life and how their world came into being. It is central to the existence of traditional Aboriginal people, their lifestyle and their culture, for it determines their values and beliefs and their relationship with every living creature and every feature of the landscape.


The Dreaming is often understood as a period of time, but this European concept of a unit of time in past does not contain the full meaning. The Dreaming is not some long past era but a continuous entity, from which people come, which people renew and which people go back to. Art is one of the ways through which Aboriginal people communicate with and maintain a oneness with the Dreaming. When people take on the characteristics of the Dreaming ancestors through dance, song and art and when they maintain sacred sites, the spirits of the creator ancestors are renewed. (https://www.aboriginalart.com.au/gallery/gallery_intro.html)


Variations of the brolga dreamtime story have been told and passed on over tens of thousands of years through song and dance. I resonate with the following version provided by Native Symbols (accessed 2021) as it provides insight into deeper meanings of the story that are relevant to our collaborative creative expression:

In a well-known Dreaming about Brolga, she was a beautiful girl obsessed with dancing. A wirrinun (shaman) wanted her for his wife but she refused, as she refused all men. Dancing was her love and nothing else distracted her. He harboured resentment until one day, seeing her dancing alone on the plain he takes his chance, changes himself into a willywilly (small whirlwind) and sweeps her into it with the intention of abducting her. The Great Spirit intervenes and she is transformed into Brolga as we see her today. She is still dancing.


Brolga emphasises the ability you have to pursue creative interests and talents, and still be supported. The girl was provided for by her tribe, allowed to practise skills, even though they were unnecessary for physical survival. Also, as a rare token of esteem, she was permitted to dance in the mens’ corroborees. Brolga, perhaps the first career woman, strongly emphasises going for your dream and expressing yourself creatively on a professional level. All it requires is a belief in the Self and an investment of time – the evidence that self-expression can work is stamped out in Brolga’s dance!


It is obvious Brolga symbolises creativity, especially dance and self-expression. Brolga was a very good dancer, she loved it and all her energies went into it. What are you good at in your life? Brolga dances the elegant dance of creative expression, and asks you to join her! (https://nativesymbols.info/brolga/)


The following is an audio recording of the “Brolga bird clan song” performed by the Nunggubuyu people (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1977). The Nunggubuyu language is classified as severely endangered by UNESCO, with only 272 speakers according to the 2016 census. Listen to the music of the yidaki (didgeridoo), bilma (clap sticks), and the chorus sung in Nunggubuyu. Close your eyes and envision the story and dance of the brolga. We ask that you honor the beauty of the language and the culture of the people that have passed this wisdom on to us.

Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nunggubuyu_language (accessed May 2021)


This video excerpt of 'Brolga' from 'Corroboree' (2001) from the Bangarra Dance Theatre Education Resource provides a more modern presentation of brolga dreaming.



In our next blog post, we will be sharing how our mystical connection to these majestic avians inspired the art for our new album "Felices Días"...óle!!!



Photo credit: Aniela Moldovan

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