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Tiwi Strong Women’s Group: Yoi! Ngarukuruwala

By Tamara Howie

YOUNG AND OLD join forces when the Tiwi Strong Women’s Group heads to Darwin to share song, dance and culture in Yoi! Ngarukuruwala. It’s the first time Darwin audiences are treated to the younger generation joining the stalwarts of the group on stage.

The show’s title, Yoi, comes from a Tiwi word meaning to dance, but encompasses the song and totem that accompanies the dance.

“The idea to call it Yoi came from the old ladies who wanted to get across the fact that what they sing and what they dance is who they are,” says Genevieve Campbell, who has worked with the group for 13 years.

Campbell says the show has been a long time in the making – not just because the pandemic postponed the show by 12 months.

“For quite some years, the old ladies have been encouraging young people to be involved. Every time we do something, they always say ‘let’s get the young girls involved’,” she says.

“This, more than any of our performances, is really about old people and young people together.”

The show features several special numbers, including a performance by four Portaminni sisters with a special tribute to their late mother, who was one of the core members of the group.

“Her four daughters, who all have her beautiful voice, have finally decided they’re going to come together and sing one of their mum’s songs. It will be really exciting.”

The show opens with Calista Kantilla, who has recently turned 80, singing her traditional Kulama song about Murntankala – the old woman who created the two islands. This is followed by the young women, who have created a new version of the old song and story.

“We’re seeing the first half as culture with a bit of storytelling from the Tiwi legends and then, as it moves on to the second half, it’s becoming Tiwi meets the future,” Campbell says.

Tiwi Strong Women’s Group: Yoi! Ngarukuruwala
COST $45 | $39 CONC

Photo: Tiwi and Jazz by Prudence Upton

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