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Young Indonesian visitors to dance on Mallee soil

Article Category  Community Interest
Date Published  Tuesday, March 13 2018
Author  Adelle Rohrsheim
\Photo"  Supplied by Adelle Rohrsheim

Young Indonesian visitors to dance on Mallee soil
A Rainbow artist’s chance meeting with dancers in Asia will see the local landscape come alive with colour, heritage and movement next month.

Named The Embodied Landscape it will feature performances of 18 visiting Indonesian dance and music students as well as the Wimmera’s popular Wotjobaluk dancers.

The students learn at Sampang Agung Centre for Performing Arts in the small village of Pelem on East Java, Indonesia which aims to preserve Javanese cultural heritage and traditions through dance and music.

Rainbow’s Dianne Dickson was struck by similarities between Pelem and Rainbow when, after seeing them perform while participating at an art festival in Malaysia, where she had been showing a film about Rainbow in 2014.

Dianne was then invited to watch the students perform at a festival in their own village at Pelem in 2016.

“It’s a rural area, it’s isolated, it reminded me of the Rainbow when I was younger.

“The Pelem community had built the centre where young dancers performed traditional dance with a modern twist to represent changes in lifestyle. It was really impressive!”

“It is a wonderful family setting where dance is used to tell stories, express the community values and connect with their surroundings. They have taken their traditional dances and interpreted them in a more modern way to better understand your body, mind and the importance of lifelong learning.”

When she arrived home Dianne was asked for her ideas for the Rainbow Small Town Transformation’s Project and the Indonesian dance group seemed the perfect fit.

“I could see there were a lot of similarities in the way the students were connected to land. Then I thought of the Aboriginal Wotjobaluk dancers and wondered whether there could be a connection between both performers.”

Dianne discussed her idea to long-time friend and Melbourne-based dancer Tony Yap who has worked in both the Wimmera and Indonesia and helped develop the SACPA performance space.

The result is The Embodied Landscape.

“Agung and Deasy, who run this school in Pelem, will come out with 10 student dancers, five musicians and photographer/stage manager – they’ll stay in Rainbow, and Tony and dancer Takashi Takiguchi will come up from Melbourne.

The students will arrive on Monday 23 April and stay until Sunday 29 April.

During the week they will meet and perform for school’s across the region, at the Rainbow Oasis building and share the stage at times with the Wotjobaluk dancers.

“We are also hoping to film a performance out in the landscape which will be shown in the region and may be shown to Melbourne audiences. The dancers also hope to visit Melbourne while in Australia.

“It’s a lot about the cultural exchange – what their culture means to them, and how they express those thoughts and feelings.”

“And we are sure that our Wimmera Southern Mallee residents who treasure their landscape, their culture and their community will make a real connection with these talented young performers.”

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