Dead Heart Dance: Young Talent Time, 1988

Dead Heart Dance: Young Talent Time, 1988
Johnny Young, Clearvoice Pty Ltd
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
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This clip comes from a special episode of Young Talent Time featuring Aboriginal performers.  

Athlete and model Lee Madden initiated a talent quest for Aboriginal kids and sits next to host Johnny Young as he introduces some of the contestants. 

Most of the show’s team members (numbering 40 young people by 1988) come from European backgrounds, so this series of performances represents a powerful moment in the show’s history.  

Introduced only by their first names, Yvonne, Kelly, Paula and Rachel from the Aboriginal Dance Theatre in Redfern perform what Johnny calls a ‘semi-traditional Koori dance, The Dead Heart’. 

The mesmerising dance, complete with dramatic costumes and an Uluru backdrop, is striking. In contrast to the show’s usual formula the dancer’s individual faces aren’t shown in close-up, making the performance stand out. 

They dance to an instrumental version of Midnight Oil’s ‘The Dead Heart’ composed by Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie, Peter Garrett, Martin Rotsey and Peter Gifford.  

The song is about the defiance of Australia's First Peoples after 'white man came took everything'. The lyric 'white man came took everyone' sought to raise awareness of the Stolen Generations and the government policy of forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families.

Midnight Oil composed the song for the handing back ceremony of Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock) to its traditional owners, the Pitjantjatjara people in 1985. 

This excerpt comes from episode 88/10, recorded on 26 March 1988. 

Notes by Beth Taylor