Djuki Mala

Djuki Mala
The Studio, Sydney Opera House. June 13 – 18, 2017

On their 10th anniversary, the Chooky Dancers from NE Arnhem Land, now renamed Djuki Mala, are back after a run of national and overseas touring. They started off with that infectiously funny spoof of Zorba, created apparently as a sincere indigenous thank you to a Greek woman up in their country of Elcho Island – it then went viral to millions on YouTube.  

The five agile lads, with rascally grins and big charisma, stage traditional Yolngu dance but interspersed - and occasionally blended with – contemporary hits from Motown, disco, techno, hip-hop, breakdance and a big moonwalking nod to Michael Jackson.

Talking heads on film behind tell their story. Sadly, we don’t see the country, the place, whose cultural importance they assert on the film is so central to their dance.  The now late elder Margaret Nyungunyungu is the prevalent community speaker and speaks of others now passed who also influenced these dancers – articulating a loss which contrasts and counter-pins their mad joy onstage.  

They are at their best with umbrellas following Gene Kelly Dancing in the Rain, swathed in gold turbans and loin clothes as a Bollywood male chorus, and wildly camp as sassy black divas. The choreography is nothing special, and endings and segues can be clumsy, but with their cheeky charm, pace and exuberance, and Joshua Bond as their director, these performers are unbeatable.

Martin Portus

Photographer: Daniel Boud


Djuki Mala perform at Sydney Opera House through until June 18. Tickets

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