In praise of za­pin

> Aswara is show­cas­ing this tra­di­tional Malay dance at Pang­gung Ex­per­i­ment this Fri­day and Satur­day

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE - BY BISSME S.

THE DANCE Fac­ulty of Akademi Seni Bu­daya Dan Warisan Ke­bangsaan (Aswara) has al­ways pro­duced mem­o­rable dance per­for­mances.

Aswara’s lat­est show, the 90minute Main Za­pin 2016: Akar Bu­daya Za­man which high­lights this tra­di­tional Malay dance form, is likely to be an­other suc­cess un­der its belt.

Aswara’s Dance Fac­ulty dean Mohd Yunus Alial­lah, who is also the artis­tic di­rec­tor for the show, ex­plains that za­pin orig­i­nally came from the Mid­dle East, and that Arab traders brought the dance to Malaysia cen­turies ago.

“You can see the Is­lamic and Ara­bic in­flu­ences in za­pin,” he says.

Since 2010, Aswara has been send­ing its lec­tur­ers to learn za­pin from the old dance masters in dif­fer­ent states. Th­ese lec­tur­ers then brought back the knowl­edge gained to im­part to their stu­dents.

“We wanted the stu­dents to see the dif­fer­ences be­tween za­pin dances from dif­fer­ent states,” says Mohd Yunus. “Now, we want the au­di­ence to have the same ex­pe­ri­ence that our stu­dents have had.”

Syed Haziq Afiqi, a dancer and ar­ranger for the show, says that each state in Malaysia has adapted za­pin to suit its sur­round­ings and cul­ture.

“[That’s why] za­pin is dif­fer­ent from one state to an­other,” he says. “In one state, the dancers use more of their hands, and in an­other state, the dancers use more of their hips.

“In this show, we will try to present za­pin from all the 14 states in Malaysia.”

The show will in­clude 40 dancers and about 80 crew mem­bers.

“Au­di­ences love watch­ing tra­di­tional dance per­for­mances com­pared to con­tem­po­rary dances,” says Al-Jabar Laura, an­other dancer and ar­ranger for the show.

“How­ever, if you [stage] an In­dian tra­di­tional dance, the ma­jor­ity of the au­di­ence will be In­di­ans, and if you [stage] a Malay tra­di­tional dance, the ma­jor­ity will be Malays.

“I want to see more Malays watch­ing In­dian clas­si­cal dances; and more In­di­ans watch­ing Malay clas­si­cal dances, etc.

“I would like a more mixed ra­cial crowd com­ing to watch this za­pin show.”

Al-Jabar points out that the dancers for the show are made up of dif­fer­ent races.

“The dance stu­dents in Aswara are taught all kinds of dance forms such as In­dian clas­si­cal dance, Chi­nese clas­si­cal dance, Malay clas­si­cal dance and con­tem­po­rary dance,” adds Mohd Yunus.

“We want our stu­dents to have a va­ri­ety of dance ex­pe­ri­ences. Some dance forms will im­prove your pos­ture, and other dance forms will im­prove your move­ments.

“The more dance forms you learn, the more knowl­edge­able you be­come.”

When asked if there is fu­ture for peo­ple who want to learn danc­ing and make it their ca­reer, Mohd Yunus says: “A lot of par­ents ask me that ques­tion. In the com­mer­cial dance scene, you have a good chance of be­ing a backup dancer for mu­si­cal theatre and tele­vi­sion shows.

“How­ever, if you want to per­form an artis­tic dance show, then you have to get fi­nan­cial back­ing.”

He ex­plains that Aswara has also started its own dance com­pany to raise funds for stu­dents to stage artis­tic dance per­for­mances.

It looks like Aswara is al­ways will­ing to push the bound­aries for the bet­ter­ment of the lo­cal dance scene.

will be staged at the Ex­per­i­men­tal Theatre, Aswara, this Fri­day and Satur­day. For more, visit the Aswara web­site.

(left) Lead­ing the way … (from far left) Al-Jabar, Mohd Yunus and Syed Haziq. (top) Some of the za­pin dance styles from Main Za­pin 2016: Akar Bu­daya Za­man.

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