From humble roots dancing on a basketball court in remote Elcho Island, East Arnhem land, to performing all over the world, from the stages of China to the pyramids of Egypt, Djuki Mala have become icons of the Indigenous Australian dance scene. Over their 13-year history, they have performed live over 700 times, won numerous awards and even starred in the Australian cult-classic, Bran Nue Dae. Their upcoming show tells the story of their journey.
Thanks to a travel exemption from the WA government, Djuki Mala are gracing Perth and regional WA with their self-titled show to perform traditional Indigenous and contemporary dance blended with storytelling. Director Joshua Bond told us that theatre-goers can expect hints of Bollywood, Motown, techno, hip-hop, breakdance and krumping intertwined with pop-culture references, including an appearance from Michael Jackson’s iconic glove in a rendition of Billie Jean, as well as a nod to Singing in the Rain.
With each piece evoking a deeper meaning, dances are broken up with videos from the dancer’s family members as well as elders from their Country to provide the backstory and explain why the dance is culturally or personally significant.
“You can connect to dance, whether you understand the language or not.”
Despite the show only being 70 minutes, there are a whopping six costume changes with corresponding mood changes, from a beautifully tragic funeral song to an array of high-energy, happy dance pieces. Joshua told us the performers’ energy is contagious;
“The audience are on their feet by the time the show’s finished.”
Djuki Mala rose to fame back in 2007 when they uploaded a video of their performance at Ramingining Festival, which went viral with over 3M views. Then-called the ‘Chooky Dancers’, the dance is a blend between Aboriginal and Greek culture. Check it out below.
Djuki Mala are performing at the Regal Theatre in Subiaco from Thurs, Oct 29 – Sat, Oct 31. For tickets and further information, see here.