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Connecting space with bodies

A. Kurniawan Ulung
A. Kurniawan Ulung

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, June 7, 2018 | 08:43 am
  • Contemplating: One of the four dancers performs Spasial at Salihara Theater in South Jakarta.

    Contemplating: One of the four dancers performs Spasial at Salihara Theater in South Jakarta. OF Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya

    Contemplating: One of the four dancers performs Spasial at Salihara Theater in South Jakarta.

  • Arm movements: A dancer performs under the lights.

    Arm movements: A dancer performs under the lights. OF Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya

    Arm movements: A dancer performs under the lights.

  • A touch of ballet: Two dancers perform together on stage.

    A touch of ballet: Two dancers perform together on stage.  OF Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya

    A touch of ballet: Two dancers perform together on stage.

  • My way: Choreographed by Josh Marcy of Indonesian Dance Theater, Spasial gives freedom to the four dancers to perform their preferred dances.

    My way: Choreographed by Josh Marcy of Indonesian Dance Theater, Spasial gives freedom to the four dancers to perform their preferred dances. OF Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya

    My way: Choreographed by Josh Marcy of Indonesian Dance Theater, Spasial gives freedom to the four dancers to perform their preferred dances.

OF

After the lights dimmed and the audience fell silent in the darkness, a female dancer appeared and walked slowly from one corner of the stage to the opposite corner accompanied by scary background music reminiscent of horror films. 

Her steps followed X-shaped shining white lines on the floor. Minutes later, three other dancers entered the stage. Like her, they slowly walked following the lines.

Clad in grey outfits, the four dancers kept walking around the stage. Their expressions implied that they did not know each other. When the music switched to something resembling a warning signal, they increased their walking speed and then ran around the stage in confusion.  

As the X-shaped white lines disappeared, they stopped moving. They then danced while exploring every corner of the stage.  

Sometimes they danced together. Sometimes they danced on their own. One dancer displayed ballet moves such as spinning or rotating, while other dancers performed contemporary, jazz and hip hop dances. Each of them expressed their innermost emotions in different moves.

Despite their different dancing styles, they were still in harmony.

The four dancers — Alisa Soelaeman, Nudiandra Sarasvati, Ari Prajanegara and Irfan Setiawan — performed a dance titled Spasial (Spatial), at the Salihara Theater in South Jakarta on Saturday. As the name suggests, the dance was about space.

Choreographed by Josh Marcy of dance academy Indonesian Dance Theater, the 45-minute show tries to visualize the interaction between human bodies and space and dialogues between the two different entities.

“Space will become dynamic if there are humans in it,” Josh said.

“Their position determines the perception of spaces.”  

He said that space did not always mean something outside human bodies because there were other spaces within themselves. Space might be seen as an inanimate object, but if humans use it, they can give it life, according to Josh. 

They also had the freedom to decide whether they would like to adapt to the space or to change it, he added. 

The idea to create Spasial crossed his mind when he was walking along a sidewalk — something that he defined as a space. He later realized that space was not just about what he observed through his eyes because its definition was beyond that.  

“For me personally, it is about how I discover new spaces inside my body as a dancer,” he said.  

The show did not offer a story, and the four dancers did not play any characters because they purely presented themselves as human beings who were trying to know more about their bodies and souls. That is why, although they performed as a team, their moves were not always similar because they were allowed to be themselves. 

The performers also have different dancing backgrounds. Nudiandra Sarasvati, for example, is primarily a ballet dancer while Ari Prajangera is a jazz dancer.     

“He [Josh] gave us freedom to show what we want on the stage. He does not limit our imagination,” Nudiandra said.

Josh, who started his dance career as a hip-hop dancer in 2007 in Surabaya, East Java, joined Indonesian Dance Theater in 2016. The winner of the Asia Pacific Dance Competition in the contemporary solo category in 2015 once collaborated with big names in the dance scene, from Eko Supriyanto to Brussels-based German dancer and choreographer Arco Renz.      

While choreographing, the Samarinda native is also studying urban art at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ) in Jakarta. Before Spasial, Josh’s other works were A Walk at Pedestrian ( 2017 ), Layer ( 2016 ), Doa/Pills ( 2016 ) and Emologi ( 2015 ).

Josh hoped that after watching the Spasial show, the audience would try to reflect on their bodies to understand them better and be aware of where they were and what was happening around them.

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