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Production

JAMUAN Bisu...PARAdis_e...?

Company

Gerard Mosterd and Boi Sakti

Reviewer

Stephanie Burridge

Date

28/09/2007

Time

8.00pm

Place

University Cultural Centre Hall

Rating

***1/2

Silent Strength

A sense of powerful serenity underpinned the choreography of JAMUAN Bisu...PARAdis_e...?, a collaboration between Dutch-Indonesian Gerard Mosterd, and Sumatran Boi Sakti. The various components of form and content played together throughout the piece in an uneasy relationship - this discord may have resulted from a jarring of "who did what" in the creative process.

The form of the dance was exquisite. Sakti continues to dig deep into the traditions of West Sumatran dance and the rich generational heritage that he inherited from his famous choreographer mother Suid Gumarang. In contrast to this complexity of movement, the insubstantial plot made it difficult for the audience to follow the narrative and the mix of stage and projected images.

Drawing on the ethos of the matriarchal Minangkabau community of West Sumatra, the theme of a utopian world ruled by women was explored in a series of episodes that each made a point about the quiet, non-aggressive power of women. Women played the stronger sex in dance movements, physically and emotionally supporting the men.

They took on various roles as mothers, wives, lovers and workers; in all these instances, they were seen to be in control of the action and maintained their position with quiet dignity. Part of the title of the dance, jamuan bisu means "silent devotion" and the piece certainly referred to this attribute.

Projected onto the vast screen at the back of the stage were, among other things, images of street scenes in Indonesia - these projections wavered between too-obvious symbolism and very obscure references to contemporary struggles and concerns. The new-age-style music also became confusing and monotonous with an overload of phrases that were remixed and repeated many times.

A lasting image that worked well because of its simplicity was a circle of sand mapped out on the stage, which was also reflected in a projected image of the world. As the dancers gestured around the edge of the circle, denoting a global world, serenity prevailed and the relationship between the dancers and the projection was harmonious.

One could also see rare instances of new movement vocabulary. By combining a deep bending of the knees with light, intricate arm gestures and impossibly flexible hip rotations, the dancers metaphorically created a harmony between the Earth and sky, dreams and realities, power and spirituality.

It was hard-edged movement that reflected the precision of traditional dance and the power of the martial art pencak silat. The production brought together two different styles, Sakti showing clear influences from traditional dance and martial arts, Mosterd contributing a European contemporary-dance aesthetic with flowing sequences of movement.

The episodes that unfolded throughout the dance were incoherent and did not connect or hang together. Yet, despite these shortcomings, it was still a joy to watch how the supple and light dancers created a meditative atmosphere with their movement.


"It was a joy to watch how the supple and light dancers created a meditative atmosphere with their movement"

Credits

Concept and choreography: Gerard Mosterd and Boi Sakti

Video/set/costume design: Wilhelmusvlug

Composer: Leon DeLorenzo, Doni Irawan and Paul Goodman

Dancers: Davit, Mislam, Verawaty, Eka Octaviana, Masako Ono, Amaranta Velarde Gonzalez snd Leonor Carneiro

More Reviews by Stephanie Burridge

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.


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Readers' Comments


From: The Editor (matthewlyon@myway.com / Sunday, October 7, 2007 at 21:48:06)

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