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Djuki Mala regional tour

Award-winning Indigenous dance group Djuki Mala toured its fusion style to eight Queensland communities with support from arTour.



The dynamic Djuki Mala performers, from Elcho Island and North East Arnhem Land, travelled to eight regional Queensland communities for shows and workshops in the leadup to and during National Reconciliation Week 2019 (27 May to 3 June 2019).

Queensland's peak touring body, arTour, coordinated the tour of the group’s show, also called Djuki Mala, which tells the story of the company’s formation, including moments that have shaped the company along the way. 

Stories from the dancers and Elders of Elcho Island are told via video footage and are interspersed with routines ranging from traditional Yolngu dances to more contemporary, diverse styles and pop culture references, including Bollywood, pop and lock, Michael Jackson and even Singin’ in the Rain.

Regional presenters hosted a series of community engagement activities, including workshops with primary and secondary school students, Q&As, and ‘meet and greets’ to complement performances.

Presenters also organised meetings, ceremonies, performances and storytelling opportunities with local Aboriginal communities, and several of them made a full Reconciliation Week program of events around the Djuki Mala performance.


When and where

May to June 2019

Gold Coast, Mackay, Yeppoon, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Gympie, Toowoomba and Ipswich


Key facts

  • 7 paid artists and arts and cultural workers
  • 8 performances
  • 3811 attendees
  • 12 community engagement activities with 444 participants



$64,589 investment through the Playing Queensland Fund

Playing Queensland Fund supports regional tours to deliver performances, exhibitions and community engagement activities in Queensland communities, including schools and kindergartens. 

The tour was also supported through the Central Queensland Regional Arts Services Network.



  • Performances supported both Djuki Mala and the touring venues to reach new audiences. Many venues had huge first-time attendance numbers with several people driving long distances to attend. More than 95 per cent of attendees surveyed at the show indicated they 'would come to something like this again’.

Well done Gympie Council!! It was deadly!! I would love to see you program more of these types of shows!! – Gympie audience member

Invaluable experience – am confident this event will now bring people to future events in the town hall. – Livingstone Shire Council

  • Djuki Mala provided an inclusive environment, encouraging children and young people who would not usually participate to engage in the workshops.

Some of the kids were like, ‘Woah we can’t do this.’ And there is no ‘can’t’ in this. You can do this and once they started getting it you could see it on their face – they started getting excited; they started giving each other handshakes. – Tibian Wyles, Djuki Mala performer

  • School workshops engaged 214 school children across the tour, introducing aspects of Aboriginal culture and providing opportunities to link to the school curriculum.
  • Djuki Mala adopted a new approach during the tour, with the dancers themselves delivering school workshops, previously presented by the director/producer. The direct contact between the performers and community members brought a great response.
  • Meetings, ceremonies, performances and storytelling opportunities between Djuki Mala and local community members supported the sharing of culture and language between First Nations cultures.
  • The engagement with primary, secondary and Indigenous schools and organisations was an incredibly positive experience for both attendees and the dancers themselves.
  •  A partnership with Central Queensland Regional Arts Service Network (CQ-RASN) and the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre supported schools with the cost of transport or tickets, increasing accessibility and ensuring more local students could engage with the performance and workshops in that region. 



Learning and reflections

arTour reflected on the role presenters can play in engaging local communities:

Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre used Djuki Mala as part of its School Entertainment Program, initially showcasing the performance at an Educators Launch in November 2018. By getting in early, it gives schools and teachers plenty of time to get organised and plan their upcoming year. 

They also used the materials provided and created a page on why the show is great for students in their Educators Newsletter. 

With support through its Pathways to Performance Program and CQ-RASN it presented additional workshops that filled up as soon as they were confirmed. 

This funding opportunity supported five schools with transport and tickets to either the show or the workshops, equalling 155 students. 

These internal processes and programs should be emulated in other communities as it value-adds to help foster a more cohesive community.

The timing of the tour to coincide with Reconciliation Week meant that presenters found valuable reasons and purpose to engage with local Indigenous Elders, performers and community members. 

It was inspiring for the company to hear local stories and communities to share culture and language.


Tips for others

It’s important to check the pace and demands of touring schedules so as not to overload [the] touring party/artists. Allow time to meet the locals and have a yarn.

A significant amount of work was done on social media (along with other outlets) for the tour. Short ‘hello to cameras’ were produced at the very beginning of the tour, and photos and videos of the dancers in venue-specific locations were generated daily to support the tour. In places where the workshop was held the day prior to the performance, local media were informed of their arrival. We feel this had a positive impact on sales and the profile of the group overall.



Wonderfully entertaining. Great to see the culture and fun! I'm very proud of the traditional owners of the land. – Ipswich

Magnificent! Please bring more of these types of shows to Gympie. – Gympie

A beautiful combination and awareness of cultures. Such great role-models. – Toowoomba

Further information

Djuki Mala website

Djuki Mala – arTour case study