Reviewed Thursday March 11th 2010 (continues until March 14th)
Presented by The Chooky Dancers
The Chooky Dancers are best know for their YouTube sensation of dancing Zorba the Greek with traditional moves from their native Arnhem Land.
Ngurrumilmarrmiriyu (Wrong Skin) provides this talented young troupe with an opportunity to not only appease the masses with their dance routines, but to prove themselves as actors in a Shakespearian-esque story of forbidden young love and its consequences.
Since time immemorial, the Yirridja and Dhuwa clans have ensured their children must have one parent from each clan to ensure couples are not of the same moiety. When a boy and girl from the same clan fall in love, the community uproar at this ‘wrong skin’ romance leads to tragic consequences.
The play interweaves the conflicting lives of today’s youth who try to find balance between their traditional values and the external influences of other cultures through television and music.
The action unfolds on a stage framed by multiple television sets and a large rear projection. Effective use of silhouettes adds depth and visual impact to the storytelling.
The show itself, written and directed by Nigel Jamieson, is both engaging and uneven. It begins like the Friday night community disco where the Chooky Dance was born. The cast play to the audience with sensational renditions of Zorba the Greek, a Bollywood tribute and a nod to Hollywood films Singing in the Rain & West Side Story. A shopping trolley ballet is particularly excellent. Gavin Robins was the associate director and movement coordinator.
Eventually, the drama is introduced and ultimately takes over, discarding the dance routines until the final curtain. What begins as party, ends as an unrelated tragedy.
The use of surtitles disappears once the drama begins to play out, and it’s a credit to Jamieson that he is able to cross cultural boundaries without reliance on language.
The cast comprises Djakapurra Munyarrun, Djali Donald Ganambarr, Frances Djulibing, Rarriwuy Hick,, Anthony Djamangi, and Lionel Dhulmanawuy who is also the lead dancer. The troupe is completed by dancers Aaron Djimilkinya, Daren Matan, Nathan Guymangura, Gerald Dhamarrandji and Wakara Gondarra.
Good energy and great fun from a troupe we hope to see more of.
Review by Rod Lewis, Glam Adelaide Arts Critic.