Djuki Mala @ The West Australian Spiegeltent
Saturday, January 19, 2019
A second viewing of the same show, on a 40 degree day in a sauna Spiegeltent, would ordinarily be a reviewer’s nightmare, but the contagious joy of Djuki Mala simply cannot be contained. If anything, it is even more glorious on repeat, with the opportunity to sit back and revel in the multidimensional messages and drink in newcomers’ reactions to what is undoubtedly some of the most beautiful art that Australia can offer the world.
Opening with an educational narrative about the real effects of colonisation to our first nation people, told through traditional dance overlaid with video and song, is a heartbreaking reminder of the shameful parts of our history which should never be forgotten. But there is no shame thrust upon the mostly white immigrant audience, just a necessary prompt to remember and appreciate this land.
The amalgamation of different dance styles from around the globe follows suit and seems so perfectly natural when blended with Yolngu traditional dance. Each dancer imbues his performance with their own unique personality even as they synchronise their choreography, but there always remains an overarching sense of mischief, fun and sometimes downright cheekiness as they grin and wink at an audience completely caught up in the contagious jubilance of dance.
The move to The West Australian Spiegeltent from Teatro means the sublime video taken from Yolngu family and the performers themselves is no longer above them while they dance, but rather directly behind them, their shadows overlaying the screen. It still impacts the audience, but with more subtlety.
The real beauty of Djuki Mala lies in their interpretation and representation of what it truly means to be Australian in 2019. To be grateful for the custodians of this land allowing us to share in its bounty, all of us immigrants to Australia in a giant melting pot of cultural wonder. We can only hope that one day, we live in harmony as smooth and sweet as Djuki Mala’s moves.