An Interview with Baykali Ganambarr

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Hello Baykali, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
My name is Baykali Ganambarr and I’m from a community called Galiwinku, which is located on a small remote Island called Elcho Island… far north east of Darwin in the Northern Territory at the very top end of Australia. At the moment we’re Melbourne bayside presenting a season at Map57, Wintergarden in St Kilda. We’re performing for another week, we’ve already been here for a week then we head off to Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland this Saturday. The boys and I are really stoked about this upcoming tour, really excited.

When did you first realise you you could dance so well?
When I was a kid I saw my family dance, my uncles, brothers and father mainly traditional in ceremonies. Then I started to get inspired by my uncle who performed with Bangara. I started off with traditional, then came pop ’n’lock, break dance, hip hop and pretty much everything else. Being a kid in small community and watching the first DJUKI MALA dance I wanted to be with this company, in fact I needed to be there.

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Can you tell us about Djuki Mala?
The original DJUKI boys were my idols and now I’m here representing. I can’t imagine how far DJUKI MALA has come from that first YouTube clip and became a world sensation.

You have been touring now for 10 years, how has your show evolved over that time?
This year is our 10th birthday, and we will take it for another 10 or 20 more years. Performing overseas was a different experience. Sharing our oldest culture in the world to the world stage makes us really proud. The audience we had on our overseas tour were hyped with our dance and story.

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Your show was an award-winning success at the this year’s Perth Fringe. How did you find the experience?
Perth was amazing! Almost a month performing and the crowds were excellent as always. The boys and I performed well and we really can’t believe how many awards we’re stacking up last year and this year. Very well deserved and hard work.

What does Baykali Ganambarr like to do when he’s not dancing?
When I’m not on tour I pretty much go back home to the island and go fishing, play footy and basketball and also I work in the community sports and recreation organising community events and sports, also movie nights competitions with nearby islands (communities).

Who is the chief choreographer behind the group, & where does the music come from?
Well Lionel my uncle, which is Big Franks son came up with the idea of Zorba the Greek Yolngu style as a way to show respect to Lionel’s sisters’ care taker which who was a Greek lady from the Darwin hospital. We were also lucky to have Nikki Ashby on board for this new show putting her flame and passion into choreography. She’s a Nunga woman from South Australia and she is amazing and the boys and I were blessed to have her with us.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Baykali Ganambarr?
2017 looks like it’s going to be a hectic year. Got heaps coming up. Looking forward to it. Thank you.


You can catch Baykali dancing with Djuki Mala this Fringe

Aug 3-13, 15-20, 22-28 

Assembly George Square Theatre (16.30)

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