FRINGEWORLD 2017 – Djuki Mala (5 stars)

Review by Laura Money

Straight from Echo Island, in north-east Arnhem Land, this Indigenous dance troupe Djuki Mala (meaning ‘chooky mob’ in their traditional Yolngu language) are down in Perth to entertain you in the most unique dance show you’ll ever see. These young men dance with such spirit and exuberance, their energy is infectious as the whole audience claps and cheers along – almost bringing the tent down around them!

The group is the brainchild of the late Big Frank, a Yolngu man with a passion for dance and a dream to keep young people out of trouble. He formed the Djuki Mala crew with young boys he could mentor and changed their lives forever. The boys enter the speigeltent in traditional dress – feathers, ochre body-paint and all – and slowly perform a traditional dance. This is such a privilege for Perth city-slickers – a reverent hush descends and we witness something truly remarkable. A video interview of Big Frank’s wife and the boys’ own stories punctuate the spaces between acts. She reminisces that when Big Frank got sick he was cared for by a Greek woman. The boys were so grateful to her, they dedicated a dance to this remarkable lady.

This is where the boys pull not only the rug out from under you, but the entire foundations! What follows is a high-energy rendition of ‘Zorba the Greek’ – a routine they have filmed that became an instant hit. Their fusion of traditional Yolngu moves and contemporary popular culture dances is so unique and the balance is always right. From a hilarious take on Bollywood, to ‘Singing in the Rain’, these boys are cheeky and clever and you can’t help but grin along with them. The highlight of the show is a tribute to the musical styles and influences that have helped shape the boys’ dance education. From Michael Jackson to the Temptations, every kid gets a moment to shine as they cover everything from the famous black bands of the 60s and 70s, (with a truly hilarious lip sync to The Supremes) and the era of Hip-Hop and the clear influence it has had on these remarkable kids.

Djuki Mala is an absolute must-see this FRINGEWORLD 2017. Do not miss out on the larrikin spirit of these truly inspirational boys.


When: 27th January – 14th February | 6:30pm & 10:00pm

Where: Salon Perdu Speigeltent | The Pleasure Garden | PERTH

Tickets: $45

Info: Duration 65 minutes | Suitable all ages