Aboriginal troupe Chooky Dancers tackle suicide in new show

The Chooky Dancers, an Aboriginal dance group from Elcho Island, have debuted their new show called “Djuki Mala” in Darwin. The group is preparing to embark on a national tour visiting 42 communities, towns and cities around the country.

The performance showcases the Chooky Dancer story and Yolngu culture.

Chooky Dancer’s artistic director Joshua Bond says to expect some old and some new material.

“It’s somewhere between an autobiographical piece and a retrospective in that there’s a little bit of existing repertoire as well as a whole bunch of new repertoire,” he says.

The show has a strong message, and one the cast takes very seriously.

“There’s a big emphasis on the prevention of youth suicide. It’s a huge issue in our community.”

Mr Bond says a lot of the group’s members have lost a close relative to suicide.

Their pride in Yolngu culture is expressed throughout the show, and the Chooky Dancers say they want to share it with Australia.

“When Chooky come to town and people say ‘who’s Yolngu and where are Yolngu from’, then through watching and being a part of that show and being a part of that story – that ripple I guess [is why I do it],” says Mr Bond.

This article first appeared on ‘SBS’ on 5 March 2014.

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