Sean Choolburra @SeanChoolburra is certainly a wonderful ambassador for Australian indigenous culture. In late 1993, I met Sean, playing didgeridoo at the Randwick Community Centre fair. Sean is one of the most extraordinary, warm, polite and creative people I have ever had the honour and privilege to meet.
Sean at the time had a small dance group called Mulil which was doing backing dance routines for Christine Anu and he asked me if I’d manage his dance troupe. Naturally, I was delighted to manage Sean’s Mulil dance group. If I recall correctly, Mulil, in certain Aboriginal tongues, meant the word “deadly”. The word “deadly” is a popular word in Aboriginal culture related to things of an “awesome / excellent / cool / fantastic” nature.
Christine quite fairly felt that Mulil was a creation belonging to her and so we respectively left the name Mulil behind and Sean came up with the name Naroo.
Naroo I was told, in certain Aboriginal tongues, means “shake-a-leg”.
The logo designed by the highly artistic individuals featured an Aboriginal boomerang and the Torres Strait Islander dari head dress. This paid tribute to both Australian indigenous cultures.
The Naroo Aboriginal Dance Company took off like a rocket. During my three years as manager, 1994 – 1997, we did over 500 performances including twelve events at the Opera House; a tour of Japan; Woodford Folk Festival;
The National Folk Festival in Canberra; the Festival of the Dreaming, the pacific Island Festival; the Dalai Lama’s 5 day Kalachakra at the Hordern Pavilion; the APEC Leaders summit at Town Hall; Hale and Pace TV shoot; premiere of the movie Dead Heart; were the all star cast in the movie Reef Dreaming screened at Darling Harbour on a 70ft water screen; support for Jimmy Cliff’s concerts at the Metro Theatre; performing with Massive Attack in Sydney Town Hall; performing with the Fujees in Redfern; performance with Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter; performance with the Emanual Brothers; appearing with Bruce Willis, Dany Glover and Jackie Chan for the opening of Planet Hollywood; a theatre production “Gammon Old Yarns” as well as several appearances on national TV and many community, cultural, corporate and school performances.
Naroo’s final official performance was the National Folk Festival in Canberra. Many of these members went on to do great things after the disbanding of Naroo.
Sean Choolburra went on to forge a career as an accomplished solo artist and a well know comedian. After his short time with Naroo, William Barton went onto super stardom including the fruitful contemporary music collaborations with the Australian classical composer Peter Sculthorpe, as well as many prestigious engagements such as the 2019 tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. William Barton, the Kalkadoon Man, is arguably one of the most acclaimed didgeridoo artist in the world. After Naroo, Elma Kris and Peggy Misi joined the celebrated and highly successful Bangarra Dance Group where they have enjoyed great achievements including principal roles.