The first thing that got my attention upon arriving to The Woodside Pleasure Garden was the crowd of people, bunched up in a line that stretched far beyond the tent that would house the Djuki Mala performance.
Everyone was buzzing with excitement, anxious to be let in and find a seat. I was astounded by the sheer number of people hoping to buy a last-minute ticket. I could not wait to be seated.
The inside of the tent was warm, crowded, and filled with the excited hum of talking. When the lights came on, silence fell over the tent, and the four dancers stepped out.
From that moment, what transpired was 70 minutes of infectious joy and pure heart.
The tagline of the show says, “A joyous celebration 75,000 years in the making,” and it truly is. The audience is transported into the culture and lives of these four young men.
Each movement, each dance they did, was filled with passion and emotion as they intertwined their cultural Yolngu dance with contemporary styles such as hip-hop, Bollywood, and even a charming Singing in the Rain rendition.
Between and during dances, videos of the boys’ home in the Elcho Islands, North East Arnhem Land, were projected onto the back screen.
Video diaries from their family, their people, and themselves played intermittently, stories of family and childhood, joy and heartbreak.
The story of their culture, spanning 70,000 years of dancing and tradition and colonisation, was breathed into every movement of their dance.
I would not want to spoil any more of the delightful feast that is Djuki Mala. It is a performance that needs to be seen to be believed.
Passionate, joyous, and enchanting; every moment will leave you fixated on that stage, your breath taken away as you are enthralled by the sheer talent and charisma of the four men.
It is one of the best performances I have had the privilege to witness, and it is an incredibly important story being told in the most heart-warming and fun way.
If there is to be any show you see at FRINGE WORLD this year, make it Djuki Mala. You will be glad you did.