Indonesian Ballet Students to Perform With Australian Professionals

BY :MEGAN HERNDON

AUGUST 01, 2016

Jakarta. The state ballet company of Western Australia will be in Jakarta this weekend for the first time in 20 years to perform "Once," a collaboration between Australian and Indonesian dancers.  The performances will take place at Teater Jakarta on Saturday (06/08) and Sunday.

"Having an Australian ballet company travel to Jakarta is very important in building a cultural bridge between our two countries," West Australian Ballet (WAB) artistic director Aurelien Scannella said.

The visitors selected 20 Indonesian dancers from local dance school Ballet ID to perform with them. These dancers, aged between 11 and 36, were selected from a pool of 70.

They first completed four days of intensive training with the WAB's choreographers. They then spent the next six weeks rehearsing with local ballet masters while WAB's choreographers lead the classes via Skype.

"Working with choreographers from the outside gives them a perspective that's completely different," Ballet ID founder Meutia Chaerani said.  "For many years the Indonesian ballet community has been very inward looking; they don't really try to reach out, so were trying to break that."

The performance will consist of nine numbers, including classical ballets such as Cinderella and The Nutcracker, several contemporary dances, and a number inspired by Indonesian playwright-artist W.S. Rendra, to be danced by his niece, Indonesian-Australian ballerina Juliet Burnett.

Burnett's dance, titled Megatruh, combines ballet with traditional Javanese dancing. This dance, choreographed by Melanie Lane, who is also Indonesian-Australian, portrays intersections between identity and culture through meditation.

Burnett hopes this dance will exemplify her uncle's beliefs in adapting to the world around you, and "bringing in new ideas, not recycling old" when it comes to art.

"Art is what my two countries have in common," Burnett said. "It brings together local cultures and people, and this is why bringing an Australian arts company to Indonesia is such an important step in the development of good diplomatic relations."

Meutia believes the collaboration will show the audience what Indonesian ballet dancers have to offer, and give dancers the opportunity to expand their networks.

Burnett wants to see more professional ballet dancers from Indonesia, and thinks events that share the art form with the public are a good first step.

"You see ballet dancers from so many different backgrounds, from Cuba, Brazil, China," she said. "But other than [myself and one other dancer] from the top five ballet companies around the world, there are no other Indonesian ballet dancers – but this is going to change. [Indonesian dancers] have enough interest and passion. All that's missing is an understanding among the wider public of what ballet actually is, and I think coming to witness the show firsthand can change that."

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