Dozens of women dressed in traditional Javanese attire were lining up inside Balai Sarwono multi-function hall in Kemang in South Jakarta recently. All members of the Purwakanthi community were waiting their turn to take the stage, performing dances they had practiced for weeks, months even.
Among them was Helena Wirastri Wulandari, a 45-year-old law consultant who joined Purwakanthi around six months ago to learn and preserve Javanese culture, as she herself is of Javanese descent. “I had never learned to dance,” she said, adding that she joined the community to learn the basics of Javanese dance.
Joining the community means more activities on her weekends. “We have to be committed. But if we are happy, it doesn’t feel hard. Although we are busy, we will try [to make the time],” she said, citing that she had been able to learn Javanese dance and make more friends since joining Purwakanthi.
There were also young girls in the room. Among them was Myisha Aretha Larashani, the community’s youngest member. The 13-yearold shares her passion of dancing. “My goal is to be a professional dancer because that’s my dream,” she said.
Established in 2013, Purwakanthi is a community of Javanese dance lovers founded by Yoesi Ariyani and her eight friends who are all Javanese dance lovers. The community currently has 76 members who have showcased the results of their rehearsals in various events, including the World Dance Day in Surakarta, a performance in Singapore and the Wayang Orang Bharata performances in Central Jakarta.
Every Saturday or Sunday, members are invited to gather and practice in the compound of Balai Sarwono, which is located in the same area as Waroeng Solo restaurant. They will be taught basic or more advanced classic Surakartan Javanese dance in groups, each according to the group’s level. The community also welcomes lovers of classic Surakartan dance who want to do a one-time free trial practice.