Balinese dancers performed a new choreography combining modern and Balinese traditional dance elements at Singaraja's city park Tuesday afternoon. I You was choreographed by Ilona Bito, a U.S. student taking part in the School for International Training (SIT) Study Abroad program.
"The performance is my final assignment based on the field research I did here in Buleleng," Ilona said.
Ilona is a student at New York's Sarah Lawrence College, where she studies ballet and contemporary dance. She admitted combining modern dance with Balinese traditional forms was quite a challenge for her.
"I've been really happy to work together with the Balinese artists. I'm very lucky to have found friends who truly understand me and are willing to help me in this project," she said.
Her father, John Bito, attended the performance. Ilona came up with the basic idea for her choreography after she met and talked with several Buleleng artists. It was a collaborative project, Ilona pointed out, as the dance's double-meaning title indicates.
"If you say "I You" it sounds like ayu in Indonesian, which means "beautiful" and, indeed, all the female dancers involved in this project are beautiful women," she said. The dancers all belong to the Santhi Budaya performing arts troupe.
The accompanying music also showed a clear effort to amalgamate modern with traditional elements. Rhythms beat out on Papuan drums interlocked with modern instrument patterns.
The result was a refreshing performance that crossed cultural borders.
The dance will be performed at SIT Study Abroad's home base in Gianyar and at Ilona's college in the United States.
SIT Study Abroad offers undergraduate study abroad programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Middle East. Its programs focus on a field-based, experiential approach that redefines the classroom as students learn from academics, policy makers and other professionals in the real-world settings of communities, workplaces, organizations, and natural environments.