Making fans, writing music, dancing to Indigenous stories about Pallah-Pallah – another creative day at Moorambilla Voices boys camp!
William Eather and Arthur ‘Arty’ Taylor from Wellington near Dubbo, and Callum Robinson from Bourke, had never heard of the Pallah-Pallah Indigenous story before, but they’d heard other Indigenous stories. Arty knew the story of “how the kangaroo got his tail, how the hills are made and how the birds got their colours”. Callum knew the story of “how the brolga got his long neck”.
William says he was “inspired to draw Pallah because of the way she turned from light colours to plain white and black. I put her in the middle of the page, and then drew strong lines to show aspects of her story.”
Arty Taylor likes the way “the Pallah-Pallah story is scarey – she got really scared on the top of that snowy mountain.” Arty loves painting and drawing and wrote a rhyme about the butterfly for Alice to consider putting to music:
“Whoosh goes the sound of the wind it is strong
The wind is so strong that if you feel it, it won’t be for long
Crack that is the sound of Pallah’s skin cracking
Poor Pallah her back has been wacking against the wind all day.”
Callum Robinson lives on “Dunsandle”, a property 165 kilometers north east of Bourke and goes to school via the School of Distance Education, Bourke. Callum likes “how Pallah-Pallah disobeyed the rule and did her own thing, and then she had to face consequences.”
This was last night’s homework for Moorambilla boys – to read to each other the story of Pallah-Pallah and create text and drawings inspired by her story. The boys brought their drawings to composer Alice Chance to draw on for her ideas in writing music that they could learn and sing. Today’s mission – to help Alice create their work for performance in September – and by the end of the day we had an incredibly successful work written – almost learnt – WOW! Alice worked with Artistic Director Michelle Leonard to help the boys read music and learn how the piece was constructed.
The boys then created folded paper fans, working with textile artist Fiona Fagan, and created dance moves with Queensland Ballet’s Jacob Williams. The fans reflect the wings of the butterfly, and are made in an origami style of paper making. The children learn that patience and creativity go hand in hand!
In the dance segment, the children built a three-stage piece of movement that reflects the story of the butterfly on the mountain – the flight, the mountain and the snow storm. Jacob asked the boys to use plastic bags thrown in the air to signify the snow.
Another Moorambilla day of creative education, inspiring the boys to explore their own expression in quality, sequential learning in partnership with professional ensembles skilled in working with young people.
All these activities fulfill – indeed exceed – the NSW Creative Arts K- 6 Syllabus for Student Outcomes. It’s clear that the program builds self-confidence and self-efficacy and assists these students to become resilient, prepared to keep trying to get something right and ready for performance, or for their own creative endeavours.
This is the story of Pallah-Pallah (Balla-Ballaa) from Aunty June Barker, a Yorta Yorta woman from Cummagunya, and the story of How the Opal Came to Be, from Aunty Rose Fernando, a Kamilaroi (Gamilaroi) and Yuwaalaaray (Euahlayi) woman.
A long time ago in the dreamtimes, one of the most beautiful of all creatures was Pallah-Pallah, the butterfly, with beautiful, dazzling, multi-coloured wings. She lived happily with her family near the reeds of the Coocoran Lake. She would often wander about the high mountains they could see a long way away which were covered in white. The white on the tops of the mountains would shine when the sun shone on them. Her husband, who was named Balla-Ballaa, often told her not to leave the safety of the grasses and reeds that grew around their home on the beautiful clear water lake. But one day when her husband was out fishing, Pallah-Pallah thought she would go and have a quick look at the white on the mountains. When she flew up high, everyone looked at her beautiful coloured wings and said “she looks like a rainbow”. Pallah-Pallah flew higher and higher, and she could see the mountains covered in white. She was excited and said, “I will go right up there and see this white for myself, then I will return and tell my husband.” As she reached the top of the mountains snow began to fall. Snow beat down on the frail and weak Pallah-Pallah. She fell to the ground and was completely covered by snow. She was so exhausted she lay quiet and went to sleep while the snow fell and buried her. She slept for a long time.
She didn’t die. When she awoke, the snow was melting and as the snow melted away, so did Pallah-Pallah’s beautiful colours. The colours just disappeared, melting into the snow. As the snow melted down the mountain and across the plains, the colours ran with them to disappear into the ground near the lakes and ridges. Pallah-Pallah looked at her wings and they were no longer beautiful. She returned to her husband and family and everyone was sad to see she was no longer a beautiful butterfly, but a plain moth, just grey and brown. The beautiful colours that disappeared from her wings and went into the ground at the Morillah-stone ridges and lakes form the colours of the rainbow on the dazzling opal stones.This is how the old people told us the opal came to be.
Coocoran Lake is in Lightning Ridge and the high mountains are the Warrumbungle Mountains.