About Indonesian Dance Festival

This year in 2014 the Indonesian Dance Festival is 22 years old and has been held 12 times. Revisiting the history, the festival that was started in 1992 was trying to fll the absence of a dance festival, which helped the regeneration of the dance workforce in Indonesia. Up to now, IDF is the only prominent dance festival in Indonesia that consistently runs its programs.

The idea of a festival or national event that serves as a learning place for young Indonesian choreographers was based on the Festival Penata Tari Muda (Young Choreographers Festival) program, which later on was changed into Pekan Penata Tari Muda (Young Choreographers Week), held by Jakarta Art Council since 1978 until 1985. Notably, this event had produced Indonesian leading choreographers such as Gusmiati Suid, Tom Ibnur, Deddy Luthan, Ida Wibowo, Wiwiek Sipala, Wiwiek Widiastuti and Ben Suharto.

The discontinuation of this program in the early 1990s had raised some concerns from prominent dance fgures and academics in Indonesia, especially those who were under the Jakarta Art Institute (IKJ) at the time. During this time, Sal Murgiyanto returned to Jakarta after he fnished his dance study in America. Maria Darmaningsih as the then secretary of IKJ’s Dance Department, urged Sal Murgiyanto to arrange a dance festival that would be able to summarize the creative development of important choreographers, especially young Indonesians.

In 1992, Sal Murgiyanto, along with Maria Darmaningsih, Nungki Kusumastuti and Melina Surjadewi, started the Indonesian Dance Festival. This effort was supported by Farida Oetoyo (who at the time was the chairperson of Gedung Kesenian Jakarta or the Jakarta Playhouse), Sardono W Kusumo, Tom Ibnur, Julianti Parani, Deddy Luthan and Edi Sedyawati. The name of the festival was more or less inspired by the American Dance Festival (ADF), in which Sal Murgiyanto participated by sending and presenting Indonesian dance artists.

IDF originally was a form of IKJ’s community service. Now the festival is still held under the Performing Arts Faculty of IKJ. Since its inception, IDF has established cooperation with various parties including Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (GKJ), PKJ TIM, The National Institute of The Arts Taipei, Asian Cultural Council and the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

On its initial edition (1992), IDF only invited a few Indonesian choreographers, which included Indra Utama, Arief Rofq, Tom Ibnur, Deddy Luthan, Ida Wibowo and Sukarji Sriman. However, on its second occasion (1993), IDF presented some works of international choreographers, as this has been maintained up to now. The second edition of IDF became crucial because it introduced a new program, the showcase, which isa program designed to accommodate talented young Indonesian choreographers. The showcase program is the true spirit of IDF. It is an event for young Indonesian choreographers to exhibit their skills, and also to mature and expand their dance world. Other than providing space for young choreographers, IDF also brought back a tradition that was started in Pekan Penata Tari Muda, which was a discussion forum as a way to formulate ideas, critic and share experience between Indonesian and international dance workers.

In the frst three years, IDF was held annually (1992, 1993 and 1994). However it was considered too soon if it was done once a year. Thus, since 1994, IDF was held biannually. The political developments in Indonesia also affected the festival. The fourth IDF in 1996 was momentarily interrupted by the political demonstration by PDI (the Indonesian Democratic Party) in Cikini, Jakarta. The ffth IDF, which was supposedly held in 1998, was stopped by the Reformation political movement, so it was postponed until the following year (1999). Funding has been always a challenge. However, since 2012, under the instruction of the then Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo, IDF was included in the regular agenda of the Jakarta provincial government.

In the span of 1992 until 2002, IDF was chaired by Sal Murgiyanto, and then followed by Nungki Kusumastuti (2004- 2008), and now, Maria Darmaningsih (2010-present). IDF has succeeded in presenting signifcant works from both established   Indonesian choreographers and developing ones, and also presenting various works from international choreographers. From Indonesia, IDF has shown the works of, among others, Retno Maruti, Gusmiati Suid, Sardono W. Kusumo, I Ketut Rina, Sukarji Sriman, Martinus Miroto, Mugiyono Kasido, Eko Supriyanto, Boi G. Sakti, Hartati, Benny Krisnawardi, Ery Mefri and Jecko Siompo. Meanwhile, international artists who have performed in IDF are Ku Ming-Shen (Taiwan), Min Tanaka (Japan), Takiko Iwabuchi (Japan), Cezerine Barry (Australia), Wen Hui (PR of China), Susanna Leinonen (Finland), Janis Brenner, Yin Mei Critchell (USA), Arco Renz (Belgium/Germany), Meg Stuart (Germany), Vincent Mantsoe (South Africa/France), Kim Jae Duk (South Korea), Jerôme Bél (France) and many more. This festival has also been viewed by international dance observers, researchers and critics such as, among others, Jochen Smith (Germany), Judy van Zyle, Adrienne L. Kaeppler (Smithsonian Institution) and George Kochi (Asian Cultural Council Japan). Since 2006, IDF has also involved international curators— as members of the artistic board—Tang Fu Kuen from Singapore (since 2006) and Daisuke Muto from Japan (since 2008).

Starting from the academic environment of the Jakarta Art Institute, IDF has developed a vision of a festival that fnds its root in Indonesian dancing experience that lives in the range of and the meeting point of various cultural backgrounds. IDF was created as a creative meeting point that was based on intercultural experience as a learning process for everyone involved to explore and dive into the cultural diversity presented through the language of the dance: the choreography.

Specifcally, the learning process is directed towards the   development of dance education that is based on those various contexts; the traditional, modern and contemporary through exchange programs between the Indonesian and international dance artists in forms of workshops, presentations (performances), seminars and master classes. These programs were designed as a way to introduce young choreographers’ works and also mediation space between choreographies and Indonesian society.

Initially, IDF was a celebration of various choreographies as a way to open the self towards differences in identities. This helped in creating dialogues and collaborations to support creativity in dancing and choreography of Indonesian dance artists. As a festival that is based on the development of dance education, IDF is also trying to address the practical needs in the world of contemporary dance, which includes mediating the locality of various Indonesian dances with the development in the global scene, by connecting local experience to global scene.

This year, IDF is resettling and refecting its journey, shown in the festival’s curatorial program. If previous IDF editions has been dominated by works that have been shown before, this year IDF is marked by a combination of new works from Indonesian choreographers (premieres), international choreographers that are artistically considered as breakthrough works and new choreographies; two works are produced or co-produced by IDF.

Working as the producer is a breakthrough. It is not only the producer of a dance piece, but also of discourse— through which critical intervention towards contemporary dance practices is exercised. This year, IDF will be opened by a new production of a reinterpretation of Roro Mendut—a collaboration work between Retno Maruti and visual artist Nindityo Adipurnomo, and will be closed by Kris Is—a collaboration work between Arco Renz from Kobalt Works dance company (Brussel), Melanie Lane, Ali Sukri  (choreographer and dance lecturer) and six young dancers (students/graduates) from ISI Padangpanjang. For Kris Is, IDF is the co-producer, together with Kobalt Works and Komunitas Salihara.