Jakarta Post | 27 September 2002

A dancer (Ester Natzijl) rehearses for Gerard Mosterd’s Luminescent Twilight to be staged for two nights at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta in Central Jakarta. The dance promises to bridge the Oriental style of dancing with the Western approach. [Foto:JP/Niels Walen]

Cameron Bates – Contributor – Jakarta

Gerard Mosterd is conflicted. He was raised on both nasi (rice) and potatoes.

The darkish, dancing Dutchman, born to a blueeyed, blonde-haired Dutch father and an Indonesian mother in the Netherlands, is wrestling with his cultural background – a struggle that first saw him return to his “mother country” two years ago to begin the fight to find his roots, to confront head-on his dual identity.  “As a little kid I was told by my mother to be a shadow, or a wayang, to stay in the background while in the West, according to my father, it is necessary to search for the light, to profile your ego to be able to get things done. Is one better than the other?”

Mosterd looks comfortable sitting under the enveloping Jakarta haze in the garden of a landscaped colonial home in upmarket Menteng. His batik shirt is buttoned and he smokes the occasional cigarette as he explains about the much anticipated Indonesian performances of Luminescent Twilight.

He is excited and sits on the edge of his chair.  “This is the first time in history that a contemporary dance piece inspired by a Dutch-Indonesian background will be performed this extensively throughout Indonesia.”  In a clear voice no match for the nearby gurgling kolam ikan (fish pond) or the cooing pigeons imprisoned behind bars, he recounts his artistic history which began with improvised, slow Indonesian dances as a child and did not end with his education in classical ballet and modern dance under Marian Sarstadt at the dance academy of the Royal Conservatory in the Hague.

After graduating in 1985 he danced internationally with several companies, including the Royal Ballet of Flanders, London Festival Ballet (later ENB), Concordanse Paris and Basel Ballet. He now teaches and has choreographed three pieces, with Luminescent Twilight his first full-length work.

The 60-minute autobiographical performance features Teck Voon Ng as Mosterd’s Eastern self and Ester Natzijl as his Western self. The two dancers are separated by a thin paper screen which Mosterd says may as well be as thick as the Berlin wall.  “This piece reflects a phase that I am in now, a desire to translate my conflicts, my sympathies, my antipathies.”

He explains that being born out of a mixed marriage was the clay he used to mold his performance. A performance which Dutch newspaper Rotterdam’s Dagblad praised: “Seldom has a question been visualized so clearly in imagery and movement.”  On a deeply personal level Mosterd says the clash of cultures proved too much for his parents who, though now friends, could not live together.

“All my life that’s what my parents were dealing with because my parents’ lives were that extreme that they never really managed to understand each other. Sometimes there were maddening situations where they could nearly kill each other.”  Another key element incorporated in the work is his parents different approaches to life.

“It refers to being born or living in the twilight zone between light and darkness … your personality is put to one side and since I feel I am between both I consider myself to be in the gray zone.”  Mosterd said the piece combines the slower timeless movements of Asian dance, including the Javanese court dances, with the time-conscious movements of Western dance.  But above all else, Mosterd hopes his work entertains.

“This piece attempts in 60 minutes to bridge the Oriental’ style of dancing with the Western approach to dancing. Concentrated, meditative, introverted movements changed with dynamic, expressive gestures challenged between the masculine and the feminine, the aggressive and the passive, introversion and extroversion and Eastern and Western.”

The movements, combined with lighting and music from gamelan musician Niels Walen and electronic composer Paul Goodman, confront differences in bicultural behavior in a movement vocabulary, he said.  He added it was important for both cultures to understand each other. “That’s what this piece is about, to make an effort, to get to know each other better.”

Luminescent Twilight by Gerard Mosterd premiers in Indonesia at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta in Central Jakarta on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29. A workshop will be held at the Jakarta Arts Institute on Oct. 1.

Other venues: STSI Theater, Bandung on Oct. 6; Sositet Yogyakarta on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11; Theater Besar, STSI, Surakarta on, Oct. 12; Taman Budaya, Surabaya on Oct. 15, and Oct. 16; STSI Theater Denpasar on Oct. 19: All shows begin at 8 p.m.

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