Indigenous sailors showcase culture in Japan

Three native sailors from HMAS Hobart opened an official reception aboard the ship in Yokosuka, Japan during International Fleet Review Week.

In attendance were VIP guests, including Navy Chief Vice Admiral Mark Hammond and admirals from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the United States Navy.

The sailors performed dances indigenous to the south coast of New South Wales and Queensland.

Bosun’s Mate Jorde Lenoy led the group and said it was amazing to host a cultural show overseas.

“I was really proud to not only represent the Royal Australian Navy, but to showcase my culture internationally,” said Able Seaman Lenoy.

His mother is from the Kalkadoon tribe in Mount Isa and his father from the Gunganji tribe just outside Cairns.

The first dance welcomed guests to a safe space and the next dance told how the black cockatoo acquired its black feathers.

The final piece was called the “shaky leg dance”.

Ordinary Seaman’s combat systems operator Connor Rose, whose mother is from the Dungadi tribe in the Port Macquarie mountains, said it was a bit nerve-wracking to happen in Japan, but that he enjoyed it.

“It was surreal and thrilling at the same time,” said Able Seaman Rose.

“I would do it again without hesitation.”

The third member of the trio, Boatswain Clayton Anderson, said the moves were difficult to learn, but Able Seaman Lenoy was a good mentor.

“We adjusted and adapted and hopefully put in a good performance,” Seaman Anderson said.

Seaman Anderson comes from a small community in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her mother is of Garawa descent and her father of the Yanyula people.

Almost five percent of Hobart’s the crew identify as Aboriginal.

Prior to the event, the three sailors rehearsed in the ship’s laundry room.

As clothes dryers and washing machines hummed in the background, dancers practiced their steps to the rhythm of baton beats. Their practice paid off at the official reception.

Among the guests was JMSDF Chief Petty Officer Azuma Kuzuhito, who said Japan respects traditional culture.

“When we understand each other’s culture, it’s going to help strengthen our relationship,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Azuma.

For more images of the official reception, visit the Defense Image Gallery.

Seaman Anderson performs at the reception.

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