This is a sensational work that encompasses far more than a mere blend of Javanese and contemporary Western dance, performed to both live and recorded music. There is a wonderfully ethereal feeling about the work, which is due to the deep cultural and religious meanings behind the performance which both inform and inspire it.
Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal is both the dancer and the choreographer, as well as the director, for this incredible production. She shifts from strongly contemporary dance and floor work, with Indonesian influences, right through to strongly Javanese dance, with western influences, and encompasses a wide range of points between these two extremes.
Multi-talented musician, Ria Soemardjo, provides vocals, the sounds of a specially made bell tree, shaken as she walks, a frame drum, and viola. She has also added recorded music, the distinctive sounds of a Gamelan orchestra featuring regularly.
There is, though, a third performer who, although not seen personally, provides the exquisite lighting and live projected images without which this performance would not be possible. Paula van Beek’s lighting is an integral part of the performance, not just a wash of light so that we can see the other two.
The piece begins with a body, draped with layers of cloth, laying on a rectangular plinth, which the singer slowly and ritualistically uncovers, layer by layer, as the performance will gradually uncover the many layers of symbolism, history and culture encapsulated within it. The use of the projected video even references Wayang Kulit, traditional shadow puppetry, during the Ghost River sequence.
The combination of the many dance styles and techniques, that all work perfectly together in spite of what seems like a huge diversity, the atmospheric and evocative music, and the astoundingly effective lighting and video, all adds up to an almost overwhelming aural and visual treat for the senses.
So enthralled was the audience that one could barely here any breathing, and it seemed as though nobody moved a muscle the entire time. Even as the last of the light faded on the motionless dancer, and the final dying note of the departing vocalist ended, there was total silence for several more seconds before anybody dared to break the moment with applause. When it did come, the applause was hugely enthusiastic, appreciative, and extended.
This is an exceptional piece that goes well past being a multi-cultural dance performance, with layer after layer revealing more and more as it progresses. Don’t waste a moment booking to see this work, which has far too few performances, and ends this weekend. You may well want to see it more than once.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Critic, Glam Adelaide,
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Venue: Waterside, 11 Nile Street, Port Adelaide
Season: to 12th May 2013
Tickets: Adult $30/Concession $25/Fringe Benefits $22
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or here