Pereiha Poharama has been offered a place at the Aboriginal Centre Of Performing Arts in Brisbane recognising his talent as a dancer.
Pereiha Poharama has been offered a place at the Aboriginal Centre Of Performing Arts in Brisbane recognising his talent as a dancer. Max Fleet

Pereiha gets a groove on

A PASSION for the pop, lock and robot routine may just have been what got 18-year-old Pereiha Poharama an exclusive spot in the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) in Brisbane next year.

Mr Poharama said he was “heaps excited” about his recent acceptance into the performing arts school, meaning he could continue doing what he loved — mainly hip-hop, break dance and traditional Aboriginal dance.

“The way he’s developed over the years, the world’s his oyster,” proud mum Colleen Johnson said.

“It’s about connecting with other indigenous people, and it’s empowering.

“It’s great he’s got this chance.”

Mr Poharama only started dancing eight years ago, as his uncle Mervyn Johnson managed and mentored the Gooreng Gooreng Dance Troupe, a group of Aboriginal boys Mr Johnson passed cultural knowledge on to, to promote pride through stories, songs and dance.

“They’re all good boys,” Miss Johnson said of the group.

Mr Poharama has been performing traditional and contemporary dance in Bundaberg and surrounding regions since he was 11, and is the first member to take his dancing skills on to the next level.

Miss Johnson said her son would touch on a variety of subjects in the first year at ACPA, and then can go on to specialise over the next year to attain his Certificate III in Performing Arts.

It was good timing — Mr Poharama was considering a career in the defence force when the opportunity came up.

Miss Johnson is confident her son will do well at ACPA because he enjoys dancing.

“Through the dance, he has developed other personal qualities like self confidence, enhanced self esteem, developed leadership and mentoring qualities,” she said.

“It’s also reinforced pride in his Aboriginal identity by the promotion of the culture to the wider community,” she said.

She said a lack of pride in one’s Aboriginal identity was a major issue for youths in mainstream society, which was where negative attitudes stemmed from.

Mr Poharama’s first name (pronounced pray-ha) is Maori, from his father’s side.

He also carries a Gooreng Gooreng name, Thoolbar, which means brave, courage or determination, and was given to him by his Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Johnson.

Mr Poharama is working at a fast food store and will start at ACPA early next year.



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