Hosted by Akademi Seni Kebangsaan and themed Dance in Tertiary Education, the weeklong Tari ‘05 welcomed over 115 international guests and 100 local participants. Seminars and workshops provided the intellectual platform. Performances by established and highly reputable performing arts institutions provided the magic, with the gala night showcasing both complete items as well as excerpts from performances held during the preceding week.
While most of the contemporary works on the night used improvisation as a starting point, Magic Box by Taiwan’s Tsoying High School (under the aegis of Tso’s Dance Association) stood out. The piece was inspired by Maurice Ravel’s romantic classical composition, Bolero. The duet explored the relationship between a “magician” and his “object” of manipulation. One dancer played the magician and the other, the object, in a unique, captivating, magical game that, mid-way through, had them exchanging roles to great effect.
New Zealand’s University of Auckland and Institut Kesenian Jakarta framed contemporary dance with tradition with the former offering Pacific Voices, a 'contemporary Sa Sa (Sa Sa - a Samoan dance form) and the latter performing Manuhara, a 'contemporary Legong (Legong - a Balinese dance form)'.
The Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts and Edith Cowan University presented Baraqoda, a ballet-based contemporary piece. The theatrical piece used a multimedia backdrop and had the dancers in 17th century Western costume.
The University of Philippines’ Department of Dance surprised many with its selection, the only neo-classical ballet item in the programme. The dance, entitled Mosque Baroque, had the boldness of Vaslav Nijinsky’s famed Rite of Spring – the lead dancer, for instance, deliberately flexed her foot when it was supposed to be en pointe and other characters executed movements outside the ballet vocabulary. With their flowing pastel costumes, these dancers certainly added colour and grace to the stark stage in Akademi Seni Kebangsaan’s Experimental Theatre.
While contemporary might have ruled the night, the classical was not entirely overlooked: Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University’s Department of Dance performed a classical Thai piece entitled Mekhala-Ramasoon while the Indian Council for Cultural Relations presented a piece entitled eponymously after its genre, Kathak.
One of the rarest treats of the night was Apsara, a classical Khmer dance presented by Cambodia’s Royal University of Fine Arts. This dance style was almost lost when the Khmer Rouge closed all educational, religious and cultural institutions in 1975 during their bloody, decades-long reign in that country.
Picture From The Star
Akademi Seni Kebangsaan’s Wirama concluded the night. An abstract of Ramayana, it is influenced by fundamental concepts of traditional South-East Asian dance known as wirama, wiraga and wirasa that have to do with the harmony, energy and patterns of movements.
All in all, it was a great night, capping an impressive week of dance-related events. Tari ‘05’s success has further established the academy’s position as the premier performing arts institution in Malaysia.