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West Australian Ballet to bring WS Rendra-inspired show to Jakarta

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, August 3, 2016  /  11:19 am
West Australian Ballet to bring WS Rendra-inspired show to Jakarta

Juliet Burnett performs "Megatruh" during a press conference in Jakarta, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. (-/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Twenty years after their last visit to Jakarta, the West Australian Ballet is set to return to Indonesia with gala performance Once at Teater Jakarta in Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta, Aug. 6-7.

Initiated by the Australian Embassy Jakarta and Ballet Indonesia Foundation, also known as, the show will present new work Megatruh inspired by Indonesian poet and artist W.S. Rendra, as well as other excerpts from legendary fairytales such as Cinderella, The Nutcracker and Tarantella by talented Indonesian ballet dancers.

Choreographed by Indonesian-Australian artist Melanie Lane, Megatruh will feature Indonesian-Australian ballerina Juliet Burnett, who is also a niece of Rendra. The piece is said to be a  meditation on identity and culture through questioning the body, mind and spirit, reflecting on Rendra’s writing in his collection of essays, Mempertimbangkan Tradisi (Considering Tradition). The show’s debut on Aug. 6 will also mark the seventh anniversary of the poet's death.

(Read also: ‘Once’ upon a ballet)


#inthestudio considering Mempertimbangkan Tradisi (Considering Tradition) by my uncle #WSRendra, for #Megatruh. Getting to know him even more through this process, and reading the original text is a great way to advance my Bahasa Indonesia, with thanks to my parents' beautiful translation. I've never been happy to just step into the studio and merely relay the steps in any work I learn; I need to completely understand what it is that I'm trying to convey. And being a total nerd, I like to get really stuck into the research for each role. I really believe in the importance of this for the dancer, because, well, if the dancer doesn't understand what they are dancing, how is the audience to understand the dance? I was often told by ballet masters that I shouldn't think too much. But for me, this is stripping away an essential part of my being, and my identity as an artist. Sure, not everyone is going to resonate with my dancing; this is an unrealistic and foolish expectation anyway. (How boring the world would be if we all loved the same music, the same books, the same dancer, the same food, the same people...) But even if I've reached out in some way to just one person, this is worth it, when I look back and know that I've approached the dance in complete and sincere truth. • • Tickets for @waballet Gala: Megatruh choreographed by @melahnee | music by @nicholasrobertthayer | costume by @fbudiofficial | concept by Melanie Lane and Juliet Burnett ✨

A photo posted by Juliet Burnett (@julietburnett) on

“Rendra is the person who connects Melanie and me,” Juliet told a press conference in Jakarta on Monday. “It makes perfect sense to use his ideas as a point of departure, and it was my parents who suggested that Mempertimbangkan Tradisi would provide pertinent themes of culture and identity to draw upon.”

“Not only do I feel honored to be able to carry on a family legacy in my dancing, but to dance to something that brings me closer to my uncle in such a way is going to be very special indeed,” added Juliet who went to Indonesia to study her grandmother’s art of Javanese dance in Solo back in 2012. “I feel positive that Om Willy is watching from heaven and approves of this new creation stemming from his work, rather than recycling old works.”

Indonesian Youth Ensemble dancers perform during the audition process for the gala performance "Once" in August at Taman Ismail Marzuki in Central Jakarta.(West Australian Ballet &

In Once, the West Australian Ballet is also collaborating with 20 Indonesian dancers, with ages ranging from 11 to 36 years old. Named the Indonesian Youth Ensemble, the group was selected from 70 applicants and trained by the company’s education and access manager, Deborah Robertson. In Once, they will perform L’Enfant Joyeux and Ripple and Surge.

In addition to the dancers, the West Australian Ballet has also invited Indonesian stage technicians to join a knowledge exchange program dubbed Indonesian Stage Apprentice on Aug. 2-7, where they will receive training as well as best-practice sharing from professional stage technicians. (kes)

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