Taim bilong tambuna

New Ireland women dancers

Ancient faces, phases, continuity and change
teetering on the balance,
Melanesian Festival performances showcased
by masked men and women,
their colourful feathers waving
with the wind as they peered
through tiny painted hole eyes of old,
seeing from extant tradition
the external world’s shifting stage.
Flashing, lightning speed digital
smart phones recording for posterity
the interplay of cultures now and then,
a backward glance, then eyes looked forward
to a symbolic desire to preserve
‘taim bilong tambuna’.
Complexity/simplicity fused in live
performances of diverse cultures at risk,
the earth shuddered, faith trembled
at the prospect of a dance to extinction,
columns of bare feet pounded the earth,
dust flew, drums beating collective heartbeats
that synchronised with the rhythm of singsing,
the human species at edge
now with cultural unrest!

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