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Festival of Southeast Asia in Oxford – An Afternoon of Southeast Asian Dance

Saturday 16 April 2016
Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford

1.30–2.30pm: Lila Bhawa and the Oxford Gamelan Society

Tari Gambyong Retno Kusuma bw

About the performers:

Saryani Asmayawati was born in West Java, Indonesia. She started learning and performing Balinese dancing at Sanggar Tari Gita Saraswati, Bandung at the age of 10. She learned Sundanese dances at a very young age and was a member of Lingkung Seni Sunda at Institut Teknologi Bandung. She is now retraining under the guidance of Ni Madé Pujawati.

Ni Madé Pujawati is The Director of the London-based Lila Bhawa Dance Group. She has been learning Balinese dance since she can remember and was trained at the Indonesian National Conservatory and the Indonesian Institute of Arts. Apart from working with Lila Cita she also performs Javanese dance with the Southbank Gamelan Players and cross-Asian dance roles with FIPA (the Foundation of Indian Performing Arts). Apart from performing in Asia, she tours regularly in Europe and USA.

Déwi Ariati is from Blitar in East Java and comes from an artistically versatile family since many generations. She was an active member of the dance group Talenta, performing contemporary dance at Gadjah Mada University. Déwi has been learning Balinese dance since joining Lila Bhawa in 2013. She has been actively broadening her dance skills into Javanese, Sundanese, Betawi and other traditional Indonesian dances.

The Oxford Gamelan Society is one of Britain’s foremost amateur gamelan groups. The society meets every Wednesday in term time to play on an heirloom gamelan, Kyai Madu Laras (Venerable Sweet harmony) belonging to the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, in the Faculty of Music at the University of Oxford.

The Society is under the direction of Pete Smith, who discovered gamelan as a music student at York University. He received a scholarship to continue his studies in Indonesia where he enrolled at STSI, the Academy of Indonesian Arts in Central Java from 1992 to 1995. Since returning to the UK, Pete has taught at every level of the education system and has been instrumental in setting up many of the UK’s gamelan programmes.

The Oxford Gamelan Society has performed in many different occasions and colleges within Oxford, including St John’s and St Anne’s. The Society also performed as part of a concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bate Collection in 2011. Beyond Oxford, the Society has also collaborated and performed with different gamelan groups from Durham and York.

The Society are a regular fixture at the Symposium, having performed the beautiful music of the gamelan at the Southeast Studies Symposium in 2012, 2013, and 2014 where they performed ladrang Moncer, ketawang Kasatriyan / lancaran Kedhu / ladrang Pakumpulan, lancaran Lumbung Desa, tari Asmaradana, and gendhing Kutut Manggung.

2.30pm–3.30pm: ‘WEARING ‘SOMEONE ELSE’S FACE’: Balinese masks in the others’ worlds by Carmencita Palermo

cita-019How to make a mask alive? The body has to become one with the mask, has to become the mask! How does it happen? Balinese mask performers do not provide an homogeneous opinion; there is no unique and absolute ‘theory of mask in Bali’, but something they all seem to agree on is this: everyone can learn how to dance, ngigel, but this alone is not enough—this is just superficial movement. The important thing is mesolah, “to characterise.” … And how do you characterise a mask? Some of the mask performers associate the concept with the ‘spiritual’ aspects of the dance, others with more physical aspects.

During this demonstration performance those aspects will be introduced, then members of the audience will be invited to explore those principles first hand. All participants will find out that breath is the answer. The performer, through the breath, is able to give spirit to the mask, making it alive. The performer is, and appears to be, at one with the mask. The ‘body is the mask’ and the audience is convinced; they forget that they are watching a performer wearing ‘someone else’s face’. Is it possible for a non-Balinese to grasp and employ these principles? If so. How?

This will be an encounter with the audience to share the stages of the creative process towards a cross-cultural performance. From learning traditional Balinese Topeng mask-dance-drama to characterisation beyond tradition.

About Carmencita Palermo: Born in Sicily, trained in Bali and based in Tasmania, Dr Carmencita Palermo is a researcher and a cross-cultulral mask performer. Her PhD on Balinese mask dance-drama is from the University of Tasmania. Her work is driven by a strong passion for true dialogue between cultures through the arts. By performing, teaching and organising events she has been facilitating encounters between artists, communities, teachers and students from different cultural backgrounds in Indonesia, Europe, Brazil and Australia. Dr Palermo is currently a post-doctoral fellow at “L’Orientale”, University of Naples researching on Balinese women in contemporary literature and theatre. 

3.30-3.45pm:The Legong Kraton Condong dance by Putu Geniki Lavinia Natih

Putu Natih_Jesus College 2015

Putu will dance the Legong Kraton Condong dance; a dance, which tells the story of a princess, kidnapped by an evil king and a battle won by the forces of good (story from the Malat, Balinese Thousand and One Nights).

About Putu Natih: Putu is a Jardine-Oxford doctoral scholar studying for a DPhil at Trinity College, University of Oxford. She has been dancing traditional Balinese dance and learning the gamelan since she was 6 years old. She has performed with  numerous dance groups in Indonesia, including Mr Kompiang Raka’s Sanggar Tari Saraswati in Taman Ismail Marzuki art centre, Jakarta. She has conducted numerous dance workshops, including 3 in the UK for elementary school students in Bedfordshire and Exeter, in 2004 and 2006.

3.45-4pm: Dancers from Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia di Oxford (the Indonesian Student Association in Oxford)

PPI Oxford Performing Marendeng Marampa rom South Sulawesi at ISIC-Indonesian Scholars International Convention

The Oxford Indonesian Student Association will be performing a traditional Indonesian dance called “Tarian Indang” or in English it is called Indang Dance. Tarian Indang actually not a dance, but it is a toy/percussion musical instrument from the city of Pariaman, West Sumatera, Indonesia. This musical instrument originated from the Arab region, based on their originality, this dance was used for Islamic activities.

In the beginning when this dance first originated, it wasn’t just a normal dance to celebrate or for pleasure. Every district in Pariaman, has their own group of Indang. According to each group’s beliefs, each Indang group have what they call “Sipatuang Sirah” or group of old individuals that has magical powers to protect the group from external dark magical powers from other groups. As time goes by and people from West Sumatera do not believe in such things anymore, this dance was then performed right after Islamic recitation. It then became propaganda for the Muslims, in which the performers are young Muslim individuals who are demanding religious instructions.

The Indang dance can be played with 9-25 participants, as long as it is an odd number. Dancers will sit side by side; each dancer will be holding an Indang instrument, and they will be following the movements with the song. Banging and snapping their fingers on it is how they play the instrument. In this dance gestures are prominent, bending their body motions simultaneously and moving opposite directions of each player to another.

About the Indonesian Student Association in Oxford: The Indonesian Students’ Association in Oxford (Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia di Oxford, or PPI-OXFORD) is organised by Indonesian students who are currently studying in Oxford. We are a non-profit organisation with a mission to strengthen relationship amongst Indonesian students as well as to build stronger connection with other students from all over the world in Oxford. We are also actively promoting and introducing Indonesian cultures, culinary heritage, and tourism to the world. We have many exciting events run every month. They include educations, spirituality, health and sports, career opportunities, entrepreneurship, and promotions of Indonesia.

4-5pm: The Thai Music Circle