Saman dance performance captivates audience at Europalia Indonesia

Brussels (ANTARA News) - The traditional Saman dance performance by the Gayo people of Aceh enthralled some one thousand members of the audience at Europalia Indonesia held at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels on Tuesday evening.

"The performance was very interesting and excellent," Agnes Didi, one of the members of the audience, informed Antara London.

Didi, who has always attended the biennial international arts festival, said Europalia Indonesia is the most beautiful of all, which is what drives her to watch other performances.

In addition to the Saman Dance, the Voice of Papua music group performed during the opening of the festival attended by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and spouse Mufidah, Belgian King Philippe Leopold Louis Marie and Queen Mathilde, Indonesian former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, as well as some ministers.

Septina Rosalina Layan, one of the members of the Voice of Papua group, felt honored to be able to present a combination of arts from three regions in Papua to an international audience.

Papuan traditional music is one of the most ancient musical traditions in the world, originating before the arrival of the Austronesians in the 5th century BC. Despite centuries of external influences, such as Catholic missionaries in the 19th century and Australian miners during the gold rush and pop music era, Papuan music has managed to retain its roots.

Hailing from various regions, five Voice of Papua singers showcased the diversity and beauty of their musical traditions, including "aimunabai," which is a ballad of the ancestors of Yapen tribe, as well as "kankarem," a ceremonial song of the people in Biak region.

The performance received a rousing welcome from the audience for its distinguished characteristic as compared to the other traditional performances, among them, featuring a dancer wearing penis gourds called "koteka."

Another performance that was not less stunning was the Losari mask dance from Cirebon.

The tradition of mask dance dates back to the 15th century and originated from Cirebon, the coastal city of Java. The dancers, wearing fancy masks and colorful costumes, enact ancient stories on kings, princesses, and legendary enemies to the tunes of the gamelan.

Mask dances in Indonesia have several regional variations in terms of subject matter, style of the mask, and number of dancers. The Losari style is one of the best known and demands high technical agility and stamina.

"I am so proud to be part of this festival," Nur Anani M. Irman, one of the mask dancers, said.

Apparently, not only Nani who was proud of Indonesias presence as a guest nation at the Europalia Arts Festival but Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi also expressed pride while saying that it is indeed a good opportunity for Europeans, particularly the people of Belgium, to gain a broader understanding of the various traditional and modern cultures of Indonesia.

The Europalia Arts Festival Indonesia is being held from October 10, 2017, to January 21, 2018.

During the festival, Indonesia, as the guest country, will involve more than 486 Indonesian artists and culturalists for the implementation of 226 works and programs comprising 69 dance and theater shows, 71 music performances, 36 works of literature, 38 films, and 14 exhibitions in several cities in Belgium and six other European countries: the Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, France, and Poland.

Source: ANTARA News

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