LABOR-ART-ORIUM

At 7:20 p.m. on Thursday night, I arrived to re-register at the entrance of Teater Kecil, Taman
Ismail Marzuki. Equipped with a piece of paper containing information about the performers,
I entered the theatre and was free to choose a seat except for the two rows especially reserved
for the VIP guests. The event entitled LABOR-ART-ORIUM 2019 was held by Dance Circle
Lab and Urban Art Forum. The performance is intended as a stage for public testing of the
concept or form of works being developed by four choreographers who are finalizing their
work – as written on the introduction paper of the event. The show began at 7:45 p.m. and
was opened by Reba Aryadi who explained the purpose and what underlie LABOR-ART-
ORIUM. It was also stated that three of the four choreographers who showcased their work
that night were starting and completing their studies; while the fourth choreographer, Yola
Yulfianti, is a lecturer at the Postgraduate Program of the Jakarta Arts Institute. When the
host was still speaking to us, a dancer came on the stage and the host immediately joined as
one of the performers. A short piece by Gigi Art of Dance, choreographed by Reba Aryadi
with two dancers commenced the LABOR-ART-ORIUM that night. This work illustrates the
situation of choreography in the making and the exploration of motions. The scenes were
very verbally presented where one of the dancers made a series of moves from imaginary
lines and Reba as the choreographer approached the dancers and communicated what he
wanted.

 

a work in progress (Gigi Art of Dance) | Foto: Dody Alin

 

a work in progress (Nur Hasanah) | Foto: Dody Alin

 

Then came Irfan Setiawan, a solo dancer in the work of Nur Hasanah. Wearing a shirt, pants
made of fabric and shoes, Irfan was presented in the spotlight only illuminating the figure of
the soloist. In contradiction of his seemingly formal clothes, Irfan looked relaxed and in
control of the stage. He commenced with exploration of body spaces. Spaces formed by the
body and the space outside of the body seemed to be a locus of this work. With a dynamic
intensity and tempo, this yet untitled work in progress captivates and amazes me due to the
maturity of the solo performer, on how he controls his internal and external space and is able
to create a dynamic atmosphere to the point that the work does not seem monotonous. The
female artist known as Hassan has just started to continue her study as a postgraduate at IKJ.
However, she is not a new player in the world of contemporary dance in Indonesia. As a
choreographer, several of her works have been performed in various cities in Indonesia,
including at the Indonesian Dance Festival, whereas as a dancer, she has had years of
experiences performing in other people’s choreographies.

a work in progress (Josh Marcy) | Foto: Dody Alin

 

The following performance is the work of Josh Marcy, a work that is inclined to a research of
motion in dance that is presented in a very communicative and descriptive manner, as such a
result of research. Accompanied by Alisa Soelaeman as his dancer, Josh explained to the
audience that what he wanted to convey was the efforts to have body precisions to focus and
transfer energy from various points of the body, from internal to external. His explanation
was so systematic to the point that his session felt like a TED talks. After explaining the
choreographic tool in his research and demonstrating it with Alisa, Josh ended his work by
showcasing a short choreography in which he included his research findings into the
choreography, accompanied by an easy listening pop song.

 

A(ke)Z (Daniel Espe) | Foto: Dody Alin

 

After a light and a mind opener session, Daniel Espe was present to perform a solo
performance in his work “A(ke)Z”. The ambience at the LABOR-ART-ORIUM became dim,
and Daniel’s presence was accompanied by intense emotions and energy that were able to
change the ambience of Theater Kecil that evening. Wearing a relaxed red shirt, he started his
choreography from a lying position and afterward looking like he was trying to stand up. If
the two previous works exposed choreographic tool, Daniel’s work emphasized its
storytelling. At some moments, Daniel explored with shoes and clothes. This exploration is
also a part of the work’s narrative. Daniel Espe is a dancer ad choreographer who had studied
at the Universitas Negeri Jakarta and is now a postgraduate student at the Institut Kesenian
Jakarta. As a closing and the peak of the event, the untitled work by Yola Yulfianti, became the
closure of the series of performances. In this work, Yola uses an umbrella as a property,
sounds of the rain, singing, and readings of several dialogues from the novel “Hujan Bulan
Juni” by Sapardi Djoko Damono. This work was performed by Densiel Lebang, Mentari
Aisha, Josh Marcy, Irfan Setiawan, Alisa Soelaeman, Fitri Anggraini and Reba Aryadi as the
dancers; and Amir, Agata Megumi and Fachrizal Mochseen as the actors. In addition, this
work also involved musician Arham Aryadi and visual artist Kelvin Yohanes. This work
displays the heated political turmoil in Indonesia through news snippets airing on the screen,
in contrast to the melancholic sound of music.

 

a work in progress (Yola Yulfianti) | Foto: Dody Alin

Finally, we come to the session that is just as important as the series of dance performances,
which is the open discussion with the audiences. From four works that were showcased, the
exploration of Josh Marcy is the most open for a discussion because he explained his method
of research in a very straightforward way, to the point that the general public can understand

and in fact, were stimulated to discuss further. Whereas the other three choreographers, even
though the works were still a work in progress, it seemed as though the process were
completed and done with, resulting in discussions that would only be available to dance
practitioners. However, the moderator asked the three other choreographers to explain about
their works to be able to provoke discussion with the audiences.

In general, LABOR-ART-ORIUM contributed to the development of the dance scene in
Indonesia, specifically in Jakarta. It is time to invite the general public to enjoy the arts scene
that has long been exclusive and “unreachable for the normal minds”. The art itself is not a
banality, but can be developed from everyday things. How Josh explained about the energy
transfer from one body point to another, for example, can be objectively done by anyone,
even though the sensitivity towards the energy transfer and the potentials of the body points
might not be as sensible as those of dancers. The very unfortunate aspect about LABOR-
ART-ORIUM is the fact that there was one audience who kept on talking through the whole
performances with a very loud voice. The rest of the audiences and myself were hoping that
the organizers would be able to quickly handle such matters as it was very disturbing. Apart
from that, this event presented something that was very much needed by both art practitioners
and the general public. LABOR-ART-ORIUM that were meant for the public to be able to
appreciate the process behind a dance work, were able to reach something beyond that, as it
brought the art to a whole new point.
Keisha Aozora
Student of Postgraduate STF and Dance Lover

Some Notes from IDF Workshop for Dancers

By Su-Wen Chi

 

Seven days in Bogor for IDF dance workshop is a delight, physical and philosophical. I enjoy the first encounter with Mas Suprapto (Suryodarmo, instructor), the chat with him is like an invitation to dance in an invisible space, which opens up, stimulates, bridges the conversation between each participant and instructor. The approach of four instructors and 16 participants living together for few days in the same compound is a fun and profound experience. This allows us to be with each other in many different mindsets, and for us to apply the skill in communication and negotiation in an organic form. Being surrounded by the rough nature is the first context which surprises me, in comparison to the clean set up of dance studio I used to be, I was thinking quiet intensively how to position myself in the context and introduce the technology into the workshop.

The workshop’s brief offers a clear introduction, opening a few terms for dialogue in the first day. There is an obvious attempt in connecting the local and international dance issues/approaches, and yet stay close to the Asian context (from the fact of our nationalities). The timetable is set in a way so there is time for physical practice, for reflection and for discussion; the pace of the timetable is steady and yet flexible. The strategy of having four instructors being together with the participants is a nice move, although it feels slightly confusing in the beginning as 16 participants plus four instructors from all directions is quiet a big group with lots of information, thanks to the nature around us, the energy of the exchange between everyone smoothed through. In the end, these young people and four instructors from different generations all manage to deliver valuable knowledge to the team, driven by the curiosity in understanding dance and its larger perspective and definition.

Flexibility is the first strength I find in each participant, this may connect to the strong sense in being part of the community—each coming with a variety of dance techniques from their past education—swimming in between different approaches of each instructor in the workshop, not mentioning that they being articulate during the discussion in a gentle and intelligent way. They seem to be very exciting about whatever they learn, not to ignore the simple or little detail in their feeling or on the way of doing. They respectfully pose the question in the proper timing, also knowing when to approach which instructor privately for further discussion. I appreciate their ability in trusting each other and sharing intimate moment together, even when they are slightly critical about something (most of the time it was during one on one chat, this was the time when I know them further, knowing how they discretely navigated and reflected what happened during the day into their personal journey of dance and life). I could see their effort in finding the right terms, expressing the point, also keep the dialogue flowing and be positive in the end. Great facilitator! The dialogue and conversation flow unceasingly during these days, day and night, in the end, the brief found its own life, like the nature around us, full of organic movement.

The differentiation between dancer/choreographer become vague after awhile, although it stays center in our discussion. We quickly find out each participant has a unique physicality also artistic approach, no matter which “role” they will take in the future and how long time it may take to become. In this workshop, we respect and challenge each other as independent thinker, we all try to understand how to dance with consciousness, knowing why this and that and test how far we can possibly go and do. Although seven days may be just an introduction of everything, this workshop opens up many questions to contemplate for a long time: what is dance? where dance comes from? why classical dance? why form? what is contemporary dance? is technique important? why technology? where is the stage? why we want to connect to the nature? and what we disconnect from? Many “big” questions to be answered, and it is exactly all the “truth” we all want to find out in our own artistic journey. The dance or performance are a place for discussion, and a platform to unify the physical intelligence and the mental one, to balance, to negotiate, to position ourselves, to map the world around us.

Su Wen-Chi | IDF Documentation

Su Wen-Chi | IDF Documentation

As the world economy is going down and the culture sector is getting more conservative, and body as a receiving end, there is no just one solution and there is no just one choice; all needs to be considered in local, international and personal context. Maybe being flexible and sensitive are the quality to be proposed in dealing with such complexities.

One day, after I mention about opening door for seeing possibility, Suprapto questions me “Yes, but after opening the door, where do you go?” I ponder this question for a while, and I don’t have the answer yet, because it’s up to each person, based on what exactly he/she sees and how does this experience reflect onto his/her artistic trajectory. Ari (Ersandi, participant), asks me about the concept of the door as well, then we start to talk about time in science, as we always believe time flows in one direction, from the past then now and the future. If we build this, then we might get that, but in fact the spacetime is relative, all depends on how you look at it. Nature has its own logic of time and it’s for sure not linear. Benny (Khrishnawardi, instructor) and I also share the thoughts on how we, being dancers for years, slowly shift our energy from focusing on intensity to softness; how we sustain our intention by engaging more inner space than the outward one. I think whether the question on where to go or how time travels, it needs the right timing from how your body manifests itself. The same when Suprapto questions how some dance techniques that were inspired from the nature and yet people lost their link to that origin. He then asks me how I understand the dance technique I learned, to which I answer, it depends since most of the time, I learned it first without knowing why, but maybe after many years, I will have experienced something, then I suddenly realize what it is all about.

I always find it is such an intriguing question how to educate an artist as well as defining the Asian contemporary performing arts, maybe this links to the question when Ari and Suprapto ask me how to communicate with others about something you don’t know or something you don’t feel connected that well. I answer by putting yourself in the equal position and try to talk about it, and it is alright to take a long time first to observe in silence. But can the passivity and softness be the strength? Yes, because we are all there to offer perspective and leave space/freedom for interpretation. The message of Benny’s teaching also offers a wise note, “focus” on one point, at the same time seeing the periphery, feeling how energy flows within you and with others.

Dance, in the end, is a personal journey; strong presence on stage has price to pay in life, and it is never that simple/glorious as we see from the audience seat. As Ramli (Ibrahim, instructor) repeats it for a few times ”It is very difficult!” and that it is up to each participant, to experience it with their own timing.

 

Su Wen-Chi was invited to be one of four mentors at a week workshop for young dancers organised by Indonesian Dance Festival (IDF), 1-7 May 2016 in Kaldera, Bogor (West Java).

About Akademi IDF Workshop for Dancers

By Ramli Ibrahim

 

For me, the IDF workshop recently held at Hutan Kaldera, Bogor with four mentors and 15 Indonesian dancers affiliated to IDF, was a creative experience of the first order. It was significant that the four mentors offered four completely different perspectives and methodology for dancers to approach their dance experience. Yet, the mentors spoke of and communicated the same message and objective—how to function creatively and effectively in the present contemporary and global scenario where the options are overwhelming. Yet the creative artist/dancer has to still sustain and not loose what is considered his most precious gift within—the humanity of his being and milieu and how this gift can be translated into the dance experience—be it the actual cultivation of his physical body and movement as a dancer or the content of his work as a choreographer. The dancer/choreographer has to be able to choose and follow the right track in achieving his/her objectives. Among others, these are – to be true to oneself; to experience Nature as the greatest teacher; to be discerning in one’s observation of life; to stock oneself with right knowledge so as to be able to evaluate (dramaturgy) objectively one’s creative endeavor; to look at the human body as a metaphor of the universal and cosmic experience and to cultivate the dancer’s body as the most effective instrument to express the phenomena of life and More….

Ramli Ibrahim | IDF Documentation

Ramli Ibrahim | IDF Documentation

A major the triumph of the workshop is that the essential objectives were achieved through the process of natural realisation. The dancers and mentors lived in a natural surrounding where classes, meals and general mixing were conducted in a congenial atmosphere.  Exchanges of knowledge and ideas occurred effortlessly without fuss. The mood was receptive and the two-way exchanges between mentors and dancers were palpably strong. The mentors were more than generous to dispense with his/her knowledge and the dancers were ever keen to receive the wisdom and were pleased to show off what they have newly learnt and digested.

This was apparent in an inspiring impromptu ‘presentation’ in which the four mentors initiated the first improvisation and then subsequently this was taken over by the dancers. In this exercise, the dancers showed their command of technique, their team spirit, their sensitivities in trusting their own intuition with regard to changing creative impulses and various options of reactions to these impulses.

Excited with their inspired improv presentation just a few hours ago, the dancers decided to present their ‘last gift’ to the mentors and organizers of the workshop. It was this particular presentation that the dancers surpassed themselves and reaffirmed that the workshop had achieved its aim.  Their structured improv was not only compelling but can be viewed almost as a complete work in itself (which unfortunately cannot be repeated). Most importantly, the dancers communicated that they have digested what were taught to them in the workshop. Replete with music, both improvised live (flute, voice and drum) and recorded, the dancers showed off their spectacular talents in various indigenous dance forms and ability to direct their improv in a sensitive, intelligent and effective manner.

As mentioned, the IDF was a special experience for me. Not only was I able to meet the three outstanding mentors – Pak Suprapto Suryodarmo, Su Wen-Chi  and Benny Krisnawardi – but I was touched by the dedication and integrity of the directors in the form of Ibu Maria Darmaningsih and Nungki and organisers – Helly, Yessy, Rahmah, Sam and others, too many to mention.

Thank you, IDF!

 

Ramli Ibrahim

Sutra Foundation, Malaysia

 

Ramli Ibrahim was invited to be one of four mentors at a week workshop for young dancers organised by Indonesian Dance Festival (IDF), 1-7 May 2016 in Kaldera, Bogor (West Java)