Djuki Mala, originally known as the Chooky Dancers, are an exuberant group of indigenous dancers from Elcho Island in North-East Arnhem Land.
Their fusion of traditional Yolngu dancing with hiphop, break-dancing and hip-wiggling disco dancing has been earning standing ovations at Fringe World’s Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in the Pleasure Garden for the past week.
The show starts with the five dancers, daubed with white tribal markings and carrying long spears, performing classic Yolngu corroboree dances to the sounds of clap sticks and didgeridoo.
Suddenly, in sharp contrast to the eerily impressive indigenous dancing, the group threw themselves into frenetic hiphop and high energy disco mode.
Their cheeky Zorba the Greek routine – which has attracted more than 2.7 million views on YouTube – had the crowd clapping, cheering and whistling.
In quick succession followed a witty interpretation of Singing In The Rain – complete with umbrellas – then a white-gloved loose-limbed Michael Jackson and tongue-in-cheek renditions of The Great Pretender, My Girl, and Darling Save The Last Dance For Me.
The dancers combine comedy and clowning with boundless energy and immaculate timing.
In between the dancing, on a big screen behind the stage, a Yolgnu elder spoke of the 10-year history of the Chooky Dancers and its importance in attracting Yolngu youngsters away from petrol sniffing and drugs.
This is Djuki Mala’s first visit to Perth, but the group have toured widely in Australia and overseas, including to Canada, the UK, Europe, Israel and Egypt.
They will perform at the Pleasure Garden in Northbridge until Tuesday, February 14.