The Star  |  2 September 2005


IT WAS love at first sight when an immigrant Indonesian girl (my mother) met blue-eyed, blond, Viking boy (my father) in the Netherlands,” said Gerard Mosterd, revealing his parentage.  The 41-year-old Netherlands-based choreographer will be presenting two items, Angin and Kamu/Jij, in Kuala Lumpur this weekend. The show is presented by the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre and the Royal Netherlands Embassy, and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage.

Mosterd studied classical ballet, contemporary and folk dance at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague for nine years. He also studied Tai Chi and elementary Javanese court dance. He the spent 11 years as a performing artiste with international dance companies before striking out on his own.  Mosterd constantly explores in his work the complexities and conflicts experienced in being raised Eurasian.

“I grew up in the Netherlands – my Indonesian mother indoctrinated me with Indonesian values like the concept of wayang (shadow). I learnt about humility and of ‘emptying’ myself by getting rid of my ego.”   “This caused an inner conflict because my father taught me the opposite values – to be an extrovert and a leader, and to put myself in the limelight if I wanted to become succesful,” he said in an e-mail interview recently.

His works reflect the twilight in which he was raised – between his mother’s “shadow” and his father’s “limelight” – and also the social environment in which he grew up in.   In general, there is a nostalgic feeling of love for Indonesia in the Netherlands because, as Mosterd puts it,”…Indonesia was regarded as its beautiful daughter, who has to go her own way.”  In addition, the scars of history is still apparent amongst the Dutch East Indian society (the Indonesian immigrants forming a large Dutch-Indonesian community) in the Netherlands.   People of Dutch and mixed Dutch-Indonesian descent who were in Indonesia during World War II were particular targets of the Japanese occupation.

Angin is Mosterd and Japanese dancer, Shintaro-O-Ue’s, collaborative attempt to break the historical tension between the Dutch and the Japanese.  When Emperor Akihito visited the Netherlands in 2001, the Dutch East Indian citizen put up a fierce demonstration.  “I was motivated to answer the demonstration with an artistic statement to prove that as far as my (younger) generation is concerned, the war really is over. My plea was for them to enter a phase of reconciliation,” said Mosterd.

The 30-minute contemporary dance will be performed by Singaporean, Amsterdam-based dancer Ming Wei Poon. The Dutch East Indian society also has a profound influence on Dutch culture, particularly, Dutch literature. His latest piece, Kamu/Jij, premiered in the Netherlands April this year, is partly based on a famous 19th century colonial erotic thriller De Stille Kracht (The Hidden Force) written by Louis Couperus.   Couperus wrote, among other things, that there is a fundamental difference in world perception between Indonesians (Javanese) and Europeans and that both worlds would never be able to understand each other.   The piece, currently on tour in the Netherlands, focuses on the subject of double morality in the Indonesian community. It is Mosterd’s personal comment on a recent Indonesian law proposal to punish those caught publicly exhibiting affection such as kissing.

The performance contains the unique projection of translated ancient Javanese sensual Kakawin poems, reminding the audience of a time when public moral concerning affection seemed to be more relaxed.  The 60-minute choreography features five dancers – Wendel Spier, Thao Nguyen, Loes Ruizeveld, Ederson Rodriguez Xavier and Ming Wei Poon.

Angin and Kamu/Jij will be held in Pentas 2, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre tomorrow (8.30pm) and Sunday (3pm). Mosterd will also conduct a workshop on “Dutch-Indonesian Contemporary Choreography: Merging Elements from Two Worlds” on Sunday and next Monday from 7pm till 11pm. For tickets please call 03-4047 9000.

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