Tempo Interactive  |  7 October 2002

Pentas tari ‘Luminescent Twilight’ karya Gerard Mosterd di Gedung Kesenian Jakarta [Foto: TEMPO/Shanti]

Gerard Mosterd, the Dutch father and Indonesian mother choreographer, performing Luminescent Twilight around the Jawa-Bali. The piece which is inspired by the twilight.

TWO circles of light fell to the floor like a strong pillars. The rest is darkness space. Music was muttering sounds like a clock ticking. Even if without any dancers, the light and darkness on the stage as if it was bring a conversation.

Many foreign artists and choreographers who came to Indonesia are interested in the balance of our time. Here unlike in Europe, night and day exactly divided. Walter Spies found the shadows in Bali as a mistycal expression. Thus, fields, cows, farmers, bamboo grove in his canvas is always painted as if stricken by a back drop of light to create shadows that are imaginatically. Mella Jaarsma, when first came to Yogyakarta, always hunting the shadows.

Some time ago Suprapto Suryodarmo of Padepokan Lemah Putih, Surakarta, a training place of  “meditation movement” for many tourists, held a program called Share the Shadows. Prapto also known often bring his foreign pupils to Parangtritis Beach, to process motion based on the shadows swept away by the waves.

Also in last year, at the Jakarta Art Institute, the leader of a group of dancers Double 6, Erick Wurtz from French performed visual exploration, which was based on the screen and shadows. Three female dancers moved, and their silhouettes were like being in a high-voltage virtual room. Based on the exploration of shadow puppets, they made optical surprises.

Mosterd is a “foreign” choreographer who added the rows whom are fascinated by the twilight. Dutch father and Indonesian mother, born and raised in Amersfoort, he seemed to find the most archaic of “his past”. From beginning to end, the stage atmosphere prove its sensitivity to light and dark contrasts. Sharp transitions of light that marked the changing of the scenes absolutely was not loose. Initially the frictions of rebab. Then Teck Voon Ng, the dancer from Malaysia who was bare-chested, black pants, moved. His standing position made only his part of shoulder rinsed by the light. Suddenly quick pass from behind him was Esther Natzijl. An opening which was quite impressive. The sounds gender, bonang, and gambang which was hit by Niels Walen, equipped with the electronic music by Paul Goodman, acted as accentuate to the atmosphere.

Indeed, the stage was able to face us in the atmosphere of mystery. As if completely true what Rudjito, our artistic stylist, said once, that in the east room, dark room is always a space for the psychic. Moreover shadow calculations that Mosterd did into the dancer’s body was really careful. Teck Voon Ng movements, though not much we could remember, gentle. Contrary to Esther Natzijl, which was fast. Alternately. If one was active, the other was silent. The frequency of the both movements became contrast.

What maybe lack was the dark-light only became a set to block both dancers. Dark-light was simply a static space for the dancer’s body. Mosterd was not wild to make light as an actor. He did not create light as something that communicate with dancers. He also did not much explore the effects of enlargement of the shadows on the floor or wall, or create a space in the space with light.

At the end of the performance, a Japanese paper screen on the stage was being moved back and forth. The two dancers from the two sides facing each other like a mirror. And then Teck Voon Ng tore the paper, formed like a door. From the rear, the light was fired through the “door” until it made the path of light on the floor. And a surprise happened. Suddenly, on the stage keroncong moresko was heard. Out from the door, after all the time the dancers moved on their own, they were crawling, rolling, “dancing” together. The atmosphere which is thick before was melted. Suddenly seemed to connect that the metaphor of dark, light, shadows, twilight are in the inner logic of everyday life of traditional communities in Java.

Not so many of our choreographers and light designers to seriously explore the dark and light contrast. Is this because we are not too far located with the things that we daily see, so we missed its artistic possibilities? Mosterd’s unpretentious performance at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta last week was a reminiscent of the problem.

Seno Joko Suyono

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