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10th Indonesian Dance Festival: Goethe Institut Regional Critic Workshop

June 14-18, 2010


 Da Contents H2

INDIGENOUS DANCE: DANA WARANARA
January 27 2016
Dana Waranara—Privilege and Responsibility
Andrea James

introduction
July 12 2010
10th indonesian dance festival: dance, future tense
keith gallasch: regional dance criticism workshop, jakarta


a dance work revived: faith restored
devi fritrai: gusmiati suid, seruan

aspiration and influence
joelle jacinto: final night idf program

beyond absence
bilquis hijjas: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

borderline control
giang dang: contact gonzo

cool tensions
giang dang: s]h]elf

dancing between tradition & modernity
devi fitria: idf emerging choreographers

dancing into identity
melissa quek: idf emerging choreographers program

dancing to the threshhold
bilqis hijjas: cross over dance company, middle

July 12 2010
earth's slow death dance
melissa quek: asri mery sidowati’s merah

fighting as performance
cat ruka: contact gonzo and sayaka himeno

foreign bodies
giang dang: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

from betamax to dvd
san phalla: jeckosdance, from betamax to dvd

indonesian contemporary dance: multiple personalities
melissa quek: idf closing program

into the vortex
devi fitria: asri mery sidowati’s merah

journey into light
joelle jacinto: asri mery sidowati’s merah

love and its disconnects
cat ruka: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

noise in contemporary asian dance
pawit mahasarinand: darkness poomba and contact gonzo

July 12 2010
one shoe on, one shoe off
bilqis hijjas: muslimin b pranowo, the young

shaking the spectator's heart
phalla san: kim jae duk, darkness poomba

strange worlds, mutating forms
cat ruka: kim jae duk's darkness poomba

such is life, and so is love
pawit mahasarinand: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

when does forever end?
joelle Jacinto: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher’s maybe forever

working the audience
melissa quek: contact gonzo & darkness poomba

 

dancing to the threshhold

bilqis hijjas: cross over dance company, middle

Bilqis Hijjas creates, performs, produces, teaches and writes about contemporary dance in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She also runs a residency for choreographers at the private arts centre Rimbun Dahan and is strongly involved with the Malaysian dance association, MyDance Alliance.

Middle Middle
photo Phalla San
A MANDALA OF YELLOW SPIRIT MONEY COVERS THE CENTRE OF THE STAGE LIKE A YELLOW BRICK ROAD TO OTHER WORLDS. THREE ALMOST NAKED FIGURES STAND IN ITS MIDST, THEIR ENTWINED BODIES DAUBED WITH THE WHITE OF DEATH AND THE UNKNOWN. CLOSE BEHIND THEM, THE OBSCURED FIGURE OF A SHAMAN IS ENACTING AN ENIGMATIC RITUAL. GONGS AND BELLS CLASH. SUDDENLY, THE SHAMAN'S SHUDDERING HAND THRUSTS OUT BETWEEN THE CLOSE-PACKED BODIES, HIS SPLAYED PALM COLOURED A SHOCKING RED.

This exploration of the journey between this world and the next is Taiwanese choreographer Ho Hsiao-Mei's short work Middle, performed by Cross Over Dance company on the last day of the 10th Indonesian Dance Festival. In a set rich with colour and texture—the paint on the performers' smooth bodies, the yellow of the paper spirit money on the floor and the rough browns and reds of the wood and fibre constructions that the dances will shoulder on their spirit journey—Middle creates the dark, mysterious ambience of shamanistic ritual.

Taiwan has a strong tradition of shamans who connect with the spirit world, functioning as healers, diviners, mediums and exorcists. Some use self-mortification techniques, wounding themselves with symbolic implements and mopping up the blood with yellow spirit money (hence the use of red paint in Middle). Taiwanese shamans also employ stylised dance to establish a liminal sphere, a middle ground in which they and spirits may meet. Anthropologist David Jordan describes this as “an athletic ballet, magnificently rehearsed and enthusiastically performed.” Similarly, the shaman figure in Middle is unashamedly virtuosic, treating the audience to high leg kicks with strongly flexed feet, back arches and hand stands. Throughout his performance he stares fixedly into the centre of the audience, his mouth hanging open like the dark hole in a mask.

The other dancers, as pilgrims following the shaman's lead, display a similarly impressive physicality. During one duet, a male and female dancer press their backs against each other, with one leaning forward and the other leaning back. They transfer their weight seamlessly until the dancer on top has one leg raised weightless in the air, entirely dependent upon the dancer beneath. To the sound of a chiming bell, the dancers slowly reverse their positions, creating a tipping see-saw that demonstrates absolute control.

Middle Middle
photo Phalla San
Middle clearly depicts the different stages of ritual, from separation from reality to the transitional traveling period. When a male dancer holds his partner under the armpits and swings her in a circle, the tips of her toes ruffle the spirit money, destroying the mandala and signaling the beginning of the next phase. The dancers head out of the circle to don extravagant costumes, whose frames suggest phantom hats, huts and warrior flags. Led by the shaman's skeleton lantern, they pace around the edge of the stage. Every now and again they pause and look around, as if disturbed by the sound of unknown creatures assembling in the darkness.

The repetitive circumnavigation, the gathering gloom and the rhythmic clash of small bells lull the audience into its own trance. But unlike actual shamanistic rituals, Middle does not depict the ceremonial return out of liminality to reality. Having taken us to the threshold of the other world, the work abandons us. The dancers stop circling to stand in a line gazing out at the audience. Then the lights dim, and we are left alone in the darkness with all the phantoms they have conjured leering down at us.


10th Indonesian Dance Festival: Cross Over Dance Company, Middle, choreographer Hsiao-Mei Ho, dancers Ting-Kai Tseng, Shu-Han Chan, Jyh Shyong Wong, Xiau-Ting Liao, Teater Kecil, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta, June 16

Bilqis Hijjas creates, performs, produces, teaches and writes about contemporary dance in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She also runs a residency for choreographers at the private arts centre Rimbun Dahan and is strongly involved with the Malaysian dance association, MyDance Alliance.

© Bilquis Hijjas; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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