Djuki Mala (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

Djuki Mala

credit: Sean Young

Aboriginal traditions meet modern-day music

There's a little video intro before this performance begins, explaining where the Yolngu people live: in Elcho Island, a remote spot in Arnhem Land, Australia. Slavery, disease, high suicide rates and the forced removal of children are part of the Aboriginal Australian people's colonised past and the show's mixed-race director Joshua Bond doesn't want that to be forgotten. But he also doesn't want his family's story to be a downer. He's spent ten years touring with Djuki Mala, a troupe of dancers who mix traditional styles copied from their ancestors with Michael Jackson moves they've watched on YouTube.

Digderidoo drones introduce the first dance, where clapsticks and wailing chants accompany the five male dancers, bare-torsoed and striped with white body paint. Crouching, creeping moves morph into rhythmic full-body spasms, which blend into a wavy-armed Bollywood sequence with infectious drumming. Tunes from Technotronic, Missy Elliott and 80s funk act Zapp mix with 'Singin' in the Rain' and 'Billie Jean', while the dancers facial expressions – sometimes coy and girly, sometimes filled with swagger – add a nice touch of comedy to their routines. It's an energetic hour, with minimal bells and whistles to distract from the dancers, keeping the focus on this full on display of good fun, infectious moves.

Assembly George Square, until 28 Aug (not 14, 21), 4.30pm, £15–£16 (£13–£14).

Djuki Mala

  • 4 stars

Presented by Bond Creatives Best Dance Adelaide and Perth Fringe. West Australian Arts Editors Award. Aboriginal dance and YouTube sensations Djuki Mala make their UK debut. Unique, infectious, high-energy and always exuberant, fusing traditional Yolngu and contemporary pop culture, dance and storytelling to create work…