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Traditional Indonesian mask dance enthralls Paris

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, December 6, 2017 | 10:00 am
 Traditional Indonesian mask dance enthralls Paris

The Losari Topeng dance was among the opening acts of the 2017 Europalia Arts Festival Indonesia. (Feri Latief/File)

Indonesian master dancer Nur Anani M. Irman, also known as Nani, was in Paris over the weekend to perform the Tari Topeng Losari, a traditional masked dance from Cirebon, West Java. 

As reported by Antara news agency, the group performance was watched by 400 people at the Association Immobiliere De L'Ecole Militaire (ASIEM).

Surya Rosa Putra, education attaché at the Indonesian Embassy in Paris, said Nani's performance was part of her visit to Europe to open the 2017 Europalia Arts Festival Indonesia in Belgium. The event started in October and would run until January next year.

Surya said the embassy had invited Nani as part of an effort to familiarize Parisians with Indonesian culture.

"She is also giving a short mask dance workshop to dancers in Paris," Surya said.

In addition to Paris and Brussels, Nani is also set to perform in Liege in Belgium and Chalons-en Champagne in France.

Read also: Europalia boosts the spirit to revive traditional cultures

The Topeng Losari performance in Paris was opened with the Panji Sutrawinangun dance, also known as the Pamindo dance.

It was followed by the Patih Jayabadra dance, which depicts wayang character Patih Jayabadra. Nani then continued with the Klana Bandopati dance, which tells the story of a namesake character who is strong, brave and rough. 

Klana Bandopati, a king, is a character from the Jaka Buntek story, and is filled with anger and pride. The mask is red in color and illustrates the face of a giant with bulging eyes.

As a Topeng Losari master, Nani danced with her eyes closed, as the performance is a form of prayer to God, the body and Earth.

The Topeng Losari dance was created some 400 years ago by Panembahan Losari, also known as Losari Prince or the Angakawijaya Prince. The dance began as a way to spread Islamic teachings by highlighting the characters from Cerita Panji

Read also: Indonesian writers share thoughts on Islamic diversity in Brussels

Nani is a seventh generation master, as she is a direct descendant of Dalang Topeng Losari (Losari mask dance master). Nani is the granddaughter of Dewi Sawitri, who was the sixth generation master. 

Her performances in Europe have been met with enthusiasm, with audiences fill the room.

"I am grateful that the Topeng Losari traditional dance is appreciated by the European people," Nani said. 

The audience in the Paris performance, which was mostly made up of local residents, clapped enthusiastically at the end of her performance, according to Antara. 

French artists Lo'c Ah-Son from the Guimet Museum of Asian Art and Jean-Herv Vidal from Association Les Orientales, organizers of the music and arts festival Nantes, expressed hope that Nani would perform at Nantes next year. (liz/kes)