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Friday, June 21, 2013
Photos courtesy of Dreamscape Studio Photography
The sounds of traditional Gamelan instruments, the gender (from Bali), and the saluang and talempong (from Sumatra); the sights of batik tapestries, Balinese decorations, traditional Indonesian dress from throughout the archipelago, wayang and garuda; the smells and tastes of wingko babat (from Java), lemper, and bolu kukus; the movements of Tari Piring and Silat Tuo Minang (from West Sumatra)…
Normally, you would have to travel around the world to Indonesia to experience all of these sights and sounds. But on this day, the experience was brought to the New Haven Green during the “Indonesian Cultural Festival” that was part of the 2013 International Festival of Arts & Ideas, with performances and cultural booths hosted by the International Silat Federation of Indonesia and America in close collaboration with the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in New York (KJRI). On Friday, June 21, the New Haven Green was transformed into a cultural feast for the eyes, ears, and even taste buds. Hundreds gathered for a unique cultural showcase and experience that delighted attendees of all ages, coming from all around Connecticut, even from Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and even from the Midwest.
The day began early, with staff and members of KJRI arriving in New Haven to setup their traveling cultural booth, which they display at cultural fairs and travel trade shows throughout the region. This time, however, the booth accompanied a full-scale live performance of traditional music, dance, and martial arts from Indonesia, representing the islands of both Bali and Sumatra. The crowds gathered at noontime, drawn by the sights and sounds from the other side of the globe.
Missy Huber, Director of Programming for the Festival, introduced the performances, beginning with solo performances from the island of Bali. Ida Ayu Candrawati, whose professional Balinese dance career began more than 30 years ago, presented the Trunajaya or Truna Gandrung dance from Bali, depicting a young man in love. Putu Krisna Saptanyana, in full traditional dress with a fearsome mask, presented the Jauk dance.
Switching gears to live music, with accompaniment by Sumatran Gamelan instruments, New York-based Saung Budaya shared the Naiak/Piring tradition from West Sumatra, Indonesia, in celebration of the harvest. The traditional drums, dol and gendang, along with traditional flutes, like saluang, sampelong, and bansi, and the traditional Minang gongs the talempong, led the dancers in their movements across the stage. The dancers performed intricate movements, stepping inside bowls placed on the floor, all while balancing large wicker baskets on their heads. The movements symbolize daily farming activities, such as tilling planting, weeding, and harvesting. It is also an expression of the farmers feeling of joy and gratitude due to the abundance of the harvest. The plates then became part of the dance, with the dancers demonstrating the Piring or plate dance, with stepping movements reminiscent in places of the movements of Silat Randai, the cultural theater tradition of the region.
Building on the momentum of the Piring dance, with its reminders of Silat Randai, Bapak Waleed then led members of the International Silat Federation on-stage, to showcase both the kembangan (flower dance) and “play” with the movements of Silat Tuo and Silat Minang. At times the silat players improvised movements, each presenting their own feeling in the movements, and at other times the group moved in coordinated fashion, displaying several of the jurus or langkas of the traditional Indonesian art. In all movements, Bapak Waleed led his students with humble appreciation toward and recognition of his own masters and teachers of the most traditional and oldest forms of Silat, which set Silat Tuo and Silat Minang apart from modern sporting styles bearing similar names. Bapak Waleed himself played with several of his students, showing glimpses of how the flowing dance movements can become interactive.
The Honorable Consul General Ghafur Akbar Dharmaputra from KJRI concluded the afternoon’s performance with some remarks on diverse aspects of Indonesia, from its geography (17,528 islands, the largest archipelago in the world) to its cultural traditions, and even to its relevance in today’s market economy, with many oil companies basing their operations in Indonesia. With respect and thanks, Bapak Waleed presented the Consul General with a plaque of appreciation for the Consul General’s tireless efforts to support and promote Indonesian culture to all.
After the performances, audience members joined the ISFI/A and the KJRI at their cultural booths, both to learn more about Indonesia culture and to inquire about future performance and education opportunities. Many asked to have their pictures taken with Bapak Waleed and his students, who remained in their uniform dress for the afternoon. The KJRI booth distributed free Indonesian treats, and showcased additional music, with Pak Nyoman Saptanyana and Putu playing the gender. Participants took the opportunity to try on traditional Indonesian dress outfits from various corners of the archipelago, and to have their pictures taken in front of a backdrop map of Indonesia. The Consulate staff even setup a demonstration station to teach onlookers the basic steps of how to make batik, the traditional tapestry of Indonesia, made by dripping wax onto fabric and then dipping it into different dyes to create intricate patterns.
Scenes from the Day
Silat Tuo & Silat Minang