Jakarta Post | 5 October 2002Cameron Bates, Contributor – Jakarta
The rudeness of an Indonesian audience was no better demonstrated than during the conclusion of Luminescent Twilight at Gedung Kesenian recently. Besides a number of snoring, suited “art lovers” sleeping in the shabby, tacky, goldpainted plaster interior of the theater, concertgoers had to contend with the unwanted, extended shrill of cell phones.
The contemporary dance was supposed to reflect Dutch choreographer Gerard Mosterd’s internal struggle to accept his Indonesian ancestry. The irony of this East versus West battle being interrupted by technology cannot be understated. This arrogance – at least one of the criminals even answered the phone and began a mumbled conversation – ruined the finale of what had been entertaining, thought provoking 60 minutes. The show began for the majority – people were still arriving 20 minutes minutes into the piece – with the haunting gamelan music of Dutchman Niels Walen. Walen, barely illuminated to one side of the blackened step, used a plastic spoon and a rebab (Javanese violin), the softer gender and slenthem instruments, a gong and electronic overlays courtesy of Paul Goodman to achieve an atmosphere of loneliness.
Eventually, out of the darkness, Dutch-raised, Malaysianborn dancer Teck Voon Ng emerged. A single, narrow beam of light shone down on his back before he straightened and walked toward a second beam of light which slowly crept up his body to reveal his face for the first time.
This representation of Mosterd’s Eastern ancestry growing within him, playing more of a role in his life contrasted with his Western self, as performed by energetic Dutch dancer Ester Natzill. Natzill, who ran on stage, embraced and frolicked in the light. But it was clear she was troubled. Life is a battle and she struggled against time, against the pace of “modern” life, Her tortured facial expressions pleased the audience and she flirted with them, her movements at times, almost comical.
The dancers, though not truly tested athletically by the choreography, held the attention of the audience throughout, their meovements clearly expressing their internal and external conflicts. Teck grew in confidence throughout the piece, almost to the point of cockiness. His experimentation in the light – the quality of the lighting, and its intelligence. is a highlight – is a feature of his character.
The dancers finally square off against each other behind a back-lit paper screen. While a silhouetted Teck uses Javanese-style court dance movements. Natzijl, the crowd favorite, is fighting a bitter internal battle. Eventually Teck breaks through the thin screen, the gap in the torn, back-lit screen gives the impression of a pair of angel wings, perhaps a hint of salvation. as he emerges.
As the work climaxes the dancers have become an uncomfortable one, the music suggesting that though the dancers movements are in unison, all is not well behind the facade. The pair cease their movement and stare at each other before Teck stands and moves back towards the area of twilight as Natzijl exits stage left.
It is during this representation of Mosterd’s Eastern self retreating back into the gray area between luminescence and twilight, the finale of the piece, that the performance is interrupted and ruined by the cursed cell phone. It is clear, in this battle at least, the West and time have won hands down.
Luminescent Raitight hits Sositet Yogyakarta on Oct. 11; Theater Besar, Indonesian Arts Institute (STSI) Surakarta in Central Java on Oct. 12: Taman Budaya Surabaya on Oct. 15 and Oct. 16; and STSI Theater, Denpasar on Oct. 29. All shows begin at 8 p.m.