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A set of dances from Papua

In Front of Papua (Jecko Dance Indonesia)

The following is an old article by Putu Fajar Arcana

Jecko Siompo should have had a place in the 2007 Art Summit. This choreographer was not only quite productive, but more importantly, he brought a new variety in the realm of Indonesian contemporary dance. Jecko seems to free us from the “confinement” of the aesthetic foundations of the Javanese, Sumatran, and Balinese traditions that have so far dominated the world of contemporary Indonesian dance. The Papuan man is here to “distill” local traditions and produce a “substance” called contemporary dance that is dynamic, crisp, and pleasing to the eye.

Three of his dances, which were performed on 26-27 November 2007 at the Taman Ismail Marzuki Studio Theater (TIM) Jakarta, like Jecko’s works so far, depart from the basics of motion that live in the bodies of Papuans. The phrase “in the body” is deliberately used to emphasize that dance is not the result of the brain’s working mechanism, but rather a memory that is passed down through body movements. Coincidentally, that impression seems very close to the inheritance mechanism that occurs in Papuan society where empirical experience is the main learning medium.

Three of Jecko’s choreographies performed that night, In Front of Papua (1998), Tikus-tikus (2002), and Matahari That Rises in Papua (2007), fully refer to the richness and simplicity of Papuan gestures. And this dance package proves that the Papuan vocabulary is another pole of the search for contemporary Indonesian dance.

Jecko reminds me of primitive Papuan statues. Try to pay attention to the attitude of their fingers and hands. While in Javanese, Sumatran and Balinese dances, the palms and fingers always expand to form a variety of symbols with a certain thickness of spirituality, in Papuan dances the palms are always bent to the center like primitive statues from Asmat.

Besides being bent, the hands of the dancers always hug the chest with the body half bent. That’s the first lesson they learn from the vibrations of the nature around where they live. Perhaps that attitude is more like the behavior of animals such as kangaroos that do live on the easternmost island of Indonesia.

Jecko seems to be present as a wild east that is not much influenced by the variety of movements he has studied in other parts of Indonesia. It should be noted that this choreographer previously worked with Deddy Luthan, who represented Sumatra and Kalimantan, Boi G Sakti, who also represented Sumatra, and Sardono W Kusumo, who clearly departed from the realm of Javanese tradition. In fact, she once joined Farida Oetoyo, which can be said later to represent the ballet movement from the West.

In Jecko’s In Front of Papua in 1998, the thick feeling of Papua was unavoidable. Moreover, in this work, Jecko involves five men from Papua complete with scribbles on the body. It further confirms that this work is very closely related to the wild east earlier.

Jecko Siompo’s touch as a choreographer who studied academically at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ) in this work is only visible by performing precision in composition. He allowed the “original” vocabulary of movement attached to the Papuan body to stand out in every part. Notice the footwork, hip swaying, gestures, and shrill screams for a moment, clearly adopting the simplicity and uniqueness of Papua.

Tikus-tikus (2002), the local language for seizures, is a transitional package that tries to find a common thread between street dances such as the break dance that Jecko had studied with “wildness” not to say primitive, the variety of movements he inherited from the land of Papua. . As a result, a performance that cannot be traced at all in the journey of Indonesian contemporary dance. Jecko seems to me to have “discovered” a new, original language.

What he has learned so far, both at IKJ and when he joins other choreographers, does not make him melt in following the styles of his teachers. Even in his latest work, Matahari That Rises in Papua (2007), Jecko shows that Papua is not only a movement that relies on physical strength alone. This work looks more sublime even though ornamentally it still shows cultural objects, such as the noken worn by five female dancers.

“Glory is a pride in every sound that comes from statues and traditional motifs in the easternmost region of my nation,” said Jecko. Perhaps the expression is too bombastic when compared to the spirituality he achieves in this work. Sometimes I like that. The choreographer does not believe in what he has achieved, but instead gets stuck in verbal expressions that disperse the “beautiful feeling” that awakens in the audience.

Whatever it is, Jecko has come to be a new pole in the repertoire of Indonesian contemporary dance. If he is consistent in his work and works a little hard to try out and deepen discourse in the world of dance, surely this 32-year-old choreographer will become a maestro from Papua in the next few years. And its presence we cannot deny in any way….

Source: Kompas

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This Blog has gone through many obstacles and attacks from violent Free West Papua separatist supporters and ultra nationalist Indonesian since 2007. However, it has remained throughout a time devouring thoughts of how to bring peace to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia.

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