Made Sidia: Balancing the old and new
The Jakarta Post
Following in the footsteps of his famous father, Made Sija, Made Sidia is also a world-renowned performer and choreographer.
Like his father, the 46-year-old Bona native sees Balinese arts as a direct link to the island's past, its religion and culture, eroding under the increasingly fast-paced present.
Made Sidia loathes the sound of youngsters on motorbikes after the school day ends. Alongside the great danger of death or injury for the students speeding without helmets is the noise that shatters a quiet Saturday afternoon.
'My enemies are now the motorbikes on the street ' these kids racing on their motorbikes,' says Sidia, who suggests that these kids engage with the arts of their Balinese heritage, like the more than 200 that take dance lessons at the performer's Bona home in Gianyar.
Sidia sees a great gulf opening between that heritage and the modern world of motorbikes, and with fellow artist Djelantik, has choreographed a new dance called Tektok, which examines conflict, without which, Sidia says balance, cannot exist. The dance also pays homage to the fire dance known as Kecak, which was spontaneously created in his home village of Bona in the early 1930s to hunt away a smallpox epidemic.
'The Tektok dance, like Kecak, uses vocals as its instruments,' says the choreographer of more than 60 modern Balinese dances. 'Dad performed the traditional way. What I am doing is trying to build on tradition, but with new forms, adding a contemporary overlay to classic Balinese dance.'
Through this modern take on ancient art forms, Sidia hopes to bring into the fold more of Bali's youth, to excise them from their motorbikes and cell phones long enough to regain an appreciation of their rich heritage.
'My goal is to give more opportunity to young people to build a respect for our culture. If that does not occur, I worry they will run in another direction,' says Sidia who points to wayang (shadow puppet) presentations as example of his modern twist on the arts.
'Dad started wayang in a very traditional way, I changed that through lighting, using giant puppets, Power Point; utilizing modern tools to find ways to capture the interests of our youth,' says Sidia pointing out that today's world runs at high speed and performances needs to keep up with this.
The banyan tree can be taken as metaphor for the history and future of Balinese arts, Sidia says. 'Like a banyan, it starts with a tiny seed, which first throws down strong roots and then slowly the tree grows upward, straight and direct, while the roots bury ever deeper into the earth. So I feel we can learn from other cultures, while still holding firm to those deep roots,'
According to his philosophy, Sidia, the lecturer of dance and theatre at Denpasar's ISI University, also points to the balance that he believes lies at the heart of not only the arts but life itself. Bringing the idea of balance into community dialogue though performances, such as the conflict-driven Tektok, helps raise issues facing Bali in the 21st century.
'It's about striking the balance the world needs. Take gambelan ' gambel means to hold; musicians holding to their responsibility. Bass, drums, every instrument has its different function and when played in harmony, in balance, people enjoy the music. When played out of harmony, it's like the current period, hot then cold ' out of balance.
'At the moment, all the rules are being broken in Bali. We are not thinking about the future, about life, so from performances we try to critique this and remind audiences of right and wrong.'
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