Djuki Mala

The Chooky Dancers

About

The Chooky Dancers achieved overnight success when Frank Djirrimbilpilwuy uploaded a video clip of the group dancing to “Zorba the Greek” on YouTube in October 2007. Within twelve weeks it had peaked at over 500,000 hits worldwide and to date it stands at over 2.5 million views. The dance was initially developed by Lionel Dulmanawuy, Frank’s youngest son. It was created as a thank you to a very good Greek friend named Liliane who was the main carer of his sister, Priscilla.

The funny dancing and comedic element of their performance also has its origins in their community, explains Lionel. “It’s a tradition in a young boy’s initiation ceremony. You make up stupid dances and do them at the ceremony to make it more of a fun day for the young boy. Zorba the Greek is an extension of that.”

Since 2007 they have created a number of shows combining their re-interpretations of popular culture and dance with narrative and drama. The work reflects the juxtapositions they see in contemporary Yolngu culture, and offers a rare and insightful view into Aboriginal Australia. The Chooky Dancers were invited to perform their hit in Greece by the descendants and creator of the movie, Zorba the Greek.

With a busy touring schedule, they have performed to ecstatic crowds in China, at the Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands, in Canada, on the set of hit film Bran Nue Dae, at Glastonbury Festival in the UK, one of the biggest festivals in the world as well as and across Europe, at the nationally televised Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala and to electrified audiences at countless other major festivals and events.

In 2013, The Chooky Dancers announced that the group would be going by their Indigenous name: Djuki Mala, Djuki is the adopted word for ‘chook’ and ‘Mala’ means a group or set of people who share a common feature. Following the name change, preparations for an eponymous tour began. After months of preparation, much of the self-titled 2nd major production was built on Elcho Island in early 2014, in a cramped training centre with low-slung fans and a fridge door that doubled as a change room. The show opened to standing ovations at the Darwin Entertainment Centre in late February that year before heading off down the track on a tour of the eastern and southern states.

Always exuberant and blending their contemporary experience as young people with their traditional culture, their identity as Yolngu people is always in the foreground. Djuki Mala fuse traditional and contemporary forms of dance. Dressed in traditional costumes and ochre, with Gara (spears) & Galpu (spear thrower), they create work that is a marvel of timing, comedy and clowning, warming both the heart and soul. Behind the humour is startling movement skill and discipline, drawn from traditional culture and dance.

The style of dancing and comedic element of their performance has its origins in Yolngu culture as much as the traditional dance. Clowning within Yolngu culture has been around longer that many of the traditional dances themselves. It is from this that Djuki Mala’s natural flare for comedy has emerged.

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Cast & crew

Joshua Bond – Artistic Director/Producer
Nikki Ashby – Guest Choreographer
Angela O’Donnell – Tour Coordinator
Lionel Dulmanawuy Garawirrtja – Djuki Mala
Mitchell Rang Garawirrtja – Djuki Mala
Baykali Ganambarr – Djuki Mala
Aaron Djimilkinya Garrawurra – Djuki Mala
Simon Bapadjambang Atu – Djkui Mala
Wakara Gondarra – Djuki Mala
Margaret Nyungunyungu – Elder
Rosealee Pearson – Tour Manager/Stage Manager
Bec Cooen – Tour Manager/Stage Manager

Resources

Reviews

“Vibrant celebration of ingenuity and energy”

The Age

“Energetic, hilarious, groundbreaking”

BEAT Magazine

Itinerary

Marion Cultural Centre

Marion, SA
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Barossa Arts and Convention Centre

Tanunda, SA
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Chaffey Theatre

Renmark, SA
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Mildura Arts Centre

Mildura, VIC
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Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre

Mt Gambier, SA
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Hopgood Theatre

Noarlunga, SA
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Northern Festivals Theatre

Port Pirie, SA
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Middleback Theatre

Whyalla, SA
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Nautilus Theatre

Port Lincoln, SA
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Illawarra Performing Arts Centre

Wollongong, NSW
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Cessnock Performing Arts Centre

Cessnock, NSW
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Capitol Theatre

Tamworth, NSW
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Seymour Centre

Sydney, NSW
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Newcastle Civic Centre

Newcastle, NSW
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The Joan

Penrith, NSW
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Orange Civic Centre

Orange, NSW
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Darwin Entertainment Centre

Darwin, NT
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Drum Theatre

Dandenong, VIC
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Williamstown Town Hall

Williamstown, VIC
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Colac Performing Arts Centre

Colac, VIC
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Lighthouse Theatre

Warnambool, VIC
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Hamilton Performing Arts Centre

Hamilton, VIC
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Her Majesty's Theatre

Ballarat, VIC
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Latrobe Performing Arts Centre

Traralgon, VIC
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Eastbank Centre

Shepparton, VIC
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Geelong Performing Arts Centre

Geelong, VIC
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Cairns Civic Theatre

Cairns, QLD
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Townsville Civic Centre

Townsville, QLD
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Sarina Cultural Hall

Sarina, QLD
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Mackay Entertainment and Cultural Centre

Mackay, QLD
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Empire Theatre

Toowoomba, QLD
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Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

Brisbane, QLD
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Ipswich Civic Centre

Ipswich, QLD
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Arts Centre

Gold Coast, QLD
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Byron Theatre, Byron Community Centre

Byron Bay, NSW
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Araluen Arts Centre

Alice Springs, NT
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Nyinkka Nyunyu Arts and Culture Centre

Tennant Creek, NT
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Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Art and Culture Centre

Katherine, NT
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Darwin Entertainment Centre

Darwin, NT
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Contact

Elizabeth Rogers

Performing Arts Manager

PO Box 535
Darwin, NT 0801

performing@artbacknt.com.au

08 8941 1444