The world of contemporary dance is vast and varied, but thanks to the Indonesian Dance Festival, a big slice of it can be seen live in Jakarta in the course of just one week.
Starting last week, the festival brought together world-renowned choreographers from Asia, Europe and Northern Africa. It ends today.
Contemporary dance groups from Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Japan, Algeria, Tunisia, France, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, and Indonesia have performed at five different venues.
The festival’s aim is not only to entertain the audience, but to provide visitors with an understanding of the value of modern dance, said the festival’s artistic director, Wiwiek Sipala.
“We want to build appreciation for the audience, so they can recognize the differences in contemporary dance from countries around the world,” Wiwiek said.
The Finnish Susanna Leinonen Company is one of the groups selected for this year’s festival. At the forefront of contemporary dance, it’s the group’s first performance in Indonesia.
Jouka Valkama, video designer and husband of choreographer Susanna Leinonen, said contemporary dance was seeing a growing market in Asia.
“In the past few years, there has been a lot of demand for Susanna’s pieces from Asia. It has been easier to come to Asia than to travel around Europe,” Valkama said.
“It’s really interesting and nice to see that there is an interest toward European contemporary dance.”
The Leinonen Company will perform the hour-long show “Blinded Mind” during the finale today, followed by two dance groups from Sumatra.
Valkama said visual design, contemporary dance and music would all be “melted together to create a big piece of art.”
Combining contrasts and oppositions, the visual elements and sound of “Blinded Mind” tell the story of one person’s bravery in swimming against the stream.
Although the piece is “quite beautiful” — melting dreamlike sensitivity with stark reality — it also has a dark background to it, Valkama said.
“It’s the idea of this blind spot in your mind where something dark and unexpected can happen,” he said. “It’s like the dreamlike thing of some dark thoughts you may have, happening inside you.”
Marjo Pyykoenen, managing director of the company, said Leinonen’s classical ballet background was a crucial part of the performance.
“In this piece, you can see [not only] her handwriting, but also very technical details,” he said. “The dancers are excellent, they have classical ballet training as a background — but still, it’s contemporary dance. So it’s really interesting to see the very beautiful movements in a very modern way.”
The festival was founded in 1992 by local choreographers. In 1993, it started inviting international performers .
This year, main and street performances are on offer, as well as an international seminar, dance and film, and master classes.
A performance by The Leinonen Company
Saturday, June 9, from 8 p.m.
Jl. Cikini Raya No. 73Central Jakarta
Tel. 021 3100 3916