To the city: Max Valerio performs at the Keroncong Ibukota Ku concert on Saturday. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
The Jakarta Anniversary Festival X kicked off with the “modern circus” Segera at the iconic Gedung Kesenian Jakarta last Wednesday.
For the next two days the space continued to showcase artistic performances as part of the 485th official anniversary of the capital city.
The next two shows after Segera appeared to be efforts to bring life back to art forms whose popularity is perceived as low among the young.
Fun to Mime, held on Friday, featured the works of noted dancer Septian Dwicahyo, who said the show aimed to revive the charms of pantomime and show that it could be presented as something “fun” for the audience.
“I feel that pantomime is a basic form of physical art that can have synergy with other art forms,” he said.
Alive: Cafrinho Tugu Keroncong performs as part of a keroncong concert to celebrate Jakarta’s anniversary. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
The show featured many elements aside from pantomime such as break-dancing, which was performed by child break-dancer Brandon de Angelo, the “shuffling” dance and multimedia. It even featured dialogues and recorded words.
The pantomime scenes, which impressed the audience, included that of a character typing and being generally frustrated with office life, and those telling a story of a romance that turned into a comical fistfight.
While Septian’s aim to entertain the audience apparently succeeded, the show was visibly lacking in a unifying theme. One scene seemed to jump to a new and separate one with most simply being a chance to showcase the performer’s abilities.
As one audience member said, it was “entertaining but lacks a clear message”, nevertheless, hearty applause was given to the performers.
Keroncong Ibukota Ku was on last Saturday’s agenda at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta.
As with Fun to Mime, the show blended classical and modern elements together in an attempt to make the art form more accessible to the young.
All about mimes: Fun to Mime is the work of Septian Dwicahyo, and was performed on Friday in Jakarta. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
According to committee head Sasmiyarsi Katoppo, the history of keroncong music began in Jakarta when the Portuguese lost their monopoly rights in the archipelago to the Dutch.
“They were exiled, and the Portugese Mestizos had their own community. They missed their homeland but they were already exiled here and they married the people here,” she said.
Keroncong songs were at first expressions of their longing for their homeland and a way to console that longing, Sasmiyarsi said.
Keroncong Ibukota Ku featured noted names in the keroncong music scene such as Cafrinho Tugu Keroncong, which plays so-called Tugu-style music, and longtime singer Koes Hendratmo. But the event also featured younger stars such as rock/hip-hop group Bondan Prakoso & Fade 2 Black, as well as actor and singer Dimas Beck.
Songs featured at the show included classics as well as more contemporary numbers like “Nonton Bioskop” – popularized by late Betawi artist Benyamin S. Koes Plus – “Keroncong Pertemuan” and Bondan & Fade 2 Black’s “Keroncong Protol”.
However, most who attended the last night were unlikely to fall in the “youth” category, and Bondan & Fade 2 Black perhaps presented the most daring blend of musical styles, with the others mostly sticking to a conservative style of keroncong.
The band said that the key to blending keroncong with other musical styles lies in the understanding of each type of music one is working with.
“Some musicians try with the existing material. ‘OK we have rock [music], let’s put some gamelan in it. Done. And what happened is merely the sticking of gamelan [into the music],” Bondan said.
He said that the uniqueness in keroncong music lies in the role of the cello, which also contributes rhythm to the ensemble. “It becomes the beat,” he said.
Sasmiyarsi said the show was an initial step towards a keroncong song composing competition for young people.
According to the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta website, the anniversary festival will continue until June 28. Upcoming performances include Jomplang by Teater Aquila and Nurbanah by Teater Getapri.
A achedule is available at http://gedungkesenianjakarta.co.id.
– JP/Dina Indrasafitri