This is an absolute cracker of a show!
It began with visual images a projected onto a backdrop illustrating the coming of the white man to Australia and the spread of their influence over the continent. Then it outlined how the aborigines on an island off North East Arnhem land were probably the last to encounter these newcomers.
Djuki Mala refers to the colloquially named “chooky dancers". Indeed throughout the show there are projected clips of aborigines talking about the history of traditional dance specific to their home, Elcho Island.
The dancers are a small troupe of five but their levels of energy defy belief. First we were treated to the Yolngu dances handed down from male generation to generation. These were full of athletic leaps and sharply defined choreography. The dancers wore tribal paint and loin cloths, bearing hunting weapons. Then as the story progressed a father figure to the group took them to see the show Bran Nue Day in Broome. This opened their eyes to the potential of their dance.
When a family member was ill he was cared for in Broome by a Greek woman. Having heard the music Zorba, the Greek they developed a dance routine to thank her for her kindness. Never losing sight of the goal that teaching dance to the next generations was imperative to avoid the pitfalls of Western culture, the group embarked on a mission to broadcast their unique talents. It has taken them as far as Australian capitals, overseas engagements and the Edinburgh Fringe.
Along the way they have added in their own impressions of Western dance. From Bollywood to Singin’ in the Rain to hip-hop, from Night and Day to Michael Jackson, from disco to funk.
As dancers they are excellent but where they totally charm is in their unabashed enjoyment of dance. They interact brilliantly with the audience, pull faces, laugh and sing along. Does anybody remember Michael Jackson’s grin? Unlikely.
Their gymnastic and dance abilities drew gasps of admiration but what was loveliest was the warmth and joy they radiated in performance. Simply uplifting.
Bond Creatives presents
Venue: The West Australian Spiegeltent | The Pleasure Garden, James St, Perth WA
Dates: 28 Jan – 25 Feb 2018
Tickets: $41 – $46
Part of the 2018 Perth Fringe Festival