The Arts

Celebrating arts & culture

Barbara Drummond

Deadly Vibe Issue 71 January 2003

Dance To The Music / Dancing To Drummond’s Beat

Barbara Drummond was born to shake her groove thang.

For this energetic young Torres Strait Islander, raised on both sides of the continent, dancing is an almost automatic response to hearing good music. And when she dances, people sit up and take notice.

“You hear that music and your body starts to move ” for me it’s natural,” says Barbara. “I just want to move and do what my body feels like doing.”

Currently studying at Sydney’s NAISDA Dance College, Barbara is gaining the attention of dance aficionados near and far. She danced at last year’s Deadlys, has twice been featured at the Australian Dance Awards, and also performed for NAISDA’s 25th anniversary party.

“Throughout my life people have encouraged me with my dancing. My dad gave me the idea of going to NAISDA because his cousin, Christine Anu, had gone there.”

Now halfway through her four-year course, Barbara is soaking up the creative spirit of the place as she broadens her repertoire.

“I’m doing a lot of contemporary dance, which felt odd at first, but they say I’m a natural at it. My favourite style would have to be jazz/hip-hop, the style I’ve always danced and still dance when I’m at nightclubs.”

Barbara’s dance career took off in the West Australian town of South Hedland with street/funk group the Pilbara Dancers when she was 16.

“We’d make up something on the spot and then put a piece together, performing in festivals around the communities. There were about 10 different girls in the group and I was the only Torres Strait Islander. It was great but in the end I left to come to Sydney.”

With dreams of one day being a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson, Barbara decided to try her luck at the NAISDA auditions.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but it was fun. I was eager to learn and hungry to dance. When I got into the course I was very excited because I knew where I was going and what I wanted to do. I was eager to start a new life and see how far I could go.”

To be a successful dancer, you must be extremely fit. You also have to be able to withstand pain and exhaustion. Last year in particular proved to be a very demanding one for Barbara.

“I was exhausted and I lost sight of why I was dancing. But now I know that I want to represent my Indigenous people of Australia and to let the world know we’re here. I’ve always wanted to dance and that’s the best thing I can do.”


What is your full name:
Barbara Nana Drummond.

How old are you:

When is your birthday:
For the last 19 years I celebrated my birthday on 28 June, but I recently got hold of my birth certificate and it says 26 June! So this year I celebrated my birthday on both days!

Where are you from:
I was born in Townsville and raised in Brisbane and WA. My grandmother is from Mabuiag Island and my grandfather is from Thursday Island.

Where’s home:
These days my home is Newtown, but every year I go back to Cairns and Thursday Island.

Are you the oldest, somewhere in the middle, the baby, or an only child:
The middle.

What do your friends call you:
Babs, Barbie Doll, Black Barbie.

What was the first dance performance you ever saw:
Two boys from Brisbane called All For One who came to perform in South Hedland.

When did you start dancing:

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while you’ve been dancing:
Last year I was dancing at NAISDA’s end-of-year show and Christine Anu was a special guest. I was turning when I slipped and fell but somehow I got up and continued dancing. When I was finished, NAISDA’s general manager came up and told me I’d been very professional and that no one had noticed.

Name a song that most describes who you are:
I don’t think I’ve ever come across a song that would describe me!

What CD do you have in your CD player at the moment:
Ja Rule.

Who is your favourite Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander musician:
Ursula Yovich.

What is your best asset:
My personality.

If you could have anything printed on a T-shirt that you had to wear for the rest of your life, what would it say:
Oh No You Didn’t!

What’s your favourite part of Australia:

You’re invited to a fancy dress party. Who or what do you go as:

What animal are you most like:
A dolphin.

Make one prediction about 2003:
I have a good vibe that it’s going to be a good year.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time:
Probably in Townsville with kids.

(Story 1/1/2003 end)


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