Ja­vanese mes­merise at Rain­bow

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY SI­MONE DAL­TON

It re­ally was po­etry in mo­tion as dancers from a re­mote East Ja­vanese rain­for­est vil­lage wowed the crowd on Mallee sand at Rain­bow.

The sand stage, which had been made by vol­un­teer Llew Schilling over two busy days be­fore the per­for­mance, was dec­o­rated with a back­drop of flood­lit eu­ca­lypts.

In a world first, the young dancers and mu­si­cians from the East Ja­vanese Sam­pang Agung Cen­tre for Per­form­ing Arts pre­sented their haunt­ing Dry Leaf dance to a crowd of more than 300 en­thralled spec­ta­tors.

It was the cul­mi­na­tion of a busy week of ac­tiv­i­ties in the South­ern Mallee town, which in­volved more than 60 performers from eight coun­tries and more than 150 school chil­dren par­tic­i­pat­ing in work­shops.

Named Em­bod­ied Land­scape, the per­for­mance and workshop pro­ject was part of Oa­sis Rain­bow’s Small Town Trans­for­ma­tion which be­gan late in 2016 and runs un­til the end of this year.

It has seen the com­mu­nity re­fur­bish and re­vi­talise the for­mer va­cant pri­mary school through a se­ries of arts projects.

The vis­i­tors from East Java have a sim­i­lar story.

Lo­cals from the re­mote vil­lage of Pelem, Dea­sylina da Ary and Agung Gu­nawan, de­vel­oped Sam­pang Agung Cen­tre for Per­form­ing Arts, SACPA, as a place where chil­dren could find joy, dis­ci­pline, friend­ship and play through per­form­ing arts.

Last month these vil­lagers em­barked on a trip of a life­time to Aus­tralia, which be­gan with an of­fi­cial farewell from their lo­cal gov­er­nor.

Satur­day’s event, which also in­cluded an af­ter­noon of 20 short pop-up shows in Rain­bow streets, il­lus­trated the pos­i­tive im­pact of com­mu­nity-led arts projects.

Fed­eral Street was alive with dancers, clang­ing kitchen uten­sils, haunt­ing cries, mu­sic, colour and move­ment as scores of spec­ta­tors wan­dered en­thu­si­as­ti­cally from show to show.

The ac­tion moved to the for­mer school in the evening where Rain­bow farmer Peter Gosling played two of his com­po­si­tions and SACPA mem­bers sang and danced.

This was fol­lowed by a se­lec­tion of songs and dances from the Wim­mera’s Wotjobaluk com­mu­nity about cre­ation, bees, hawks and mos­qui­toes.

The evening ended with the Ja­vanese dancers’ Dry Leaf, a flow­ing chore­og­ra­phy de­pict­ing dry leaves, blow­ing freely and glid­ing and slic­ing through the air.

Heather Dren­del, who lives near Rain­bow, de­scribed the day as ‘bril­liant’.

“When the com­mit­tee first talked about it, it sounded such a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing and to see it come to fruition, this re­ally is some­thing to be com­mended,” she said.

Bill Neve, who trav­elled with wife Hen­nie from War­took in the north­ern Grampians, said it was a priv­i­lege to have such an event in the re­gion.

“Their move­ments are so fluid – it is like, there are no bones in them,” he said.

Event di­rec­tor Dianne Dick­son, who lives in Rain­bow and has also vis­ited SACPA, said Rain­bow peo­ple had a tra­di­tion of open­ing their homes and hearts to oth­ers.

“And this was just a fab­u­lous op­por­tu­nity to have two an­cient cul­tures con­nect­ing and col­lab­o­rat­ing on our an­cient land­scape,” she said.

Agung Gu­nawan said the jour­ney to Rain­bow was not only sig­nif­i­cant for the performers, but also their proud fam­i­lies and vil­lage in Java.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said.

PO­ETRY IN MO­TION: Ja­vanese dancers per­form Dry Leaf, a flow­ing chore­og­ra­phy de­pict­ing dry leaves, blow­ing freely and glid­ing and slic­ing through the air and be­low, In­done­sian per­former Kien Faye Lee per­forms Route 76. Pic­tures: MELISSA POW­ELL

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