Friday, July 3, 2009

June Round-Up

My last 3 weeks in Indonesia were a whirl of activity and sadly I found it impossible to keep up with this blog. So much to do! So little time!

I attended the Pasar Kangen at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta - a wonderful new initiative to revitalise traditional and folk arts in a pasar environment, complete with traditional foods, craft vendors, used book vendors etc. It was a lovely environment for seeing such kuntulan and ketoprak lesung (pictured above) and the like. Emha and Kyai Kanjeng made an appearance as well - endorsing the event and commenting on its merits.

I was in Cirebon between 13 and 20 June - attending and speaking at a national arts festival (15-20 June), sponsoring a macapat event at Kraton Keprabonan (17 June) and performing Arjuna Sasrabau at Kraton Kacirebonan (20-21 June). At the last of these, I received the gelar of Ki Ngabehi from the sultan, a tremendous honour. I managed to get in three rehearsals in Krandon, and also performed Pendhawa Nyawah once again in Suranenggala Lor as a wayang awan (13 June) prior to an all-night show by Nono Suryono. My talk at the national arts festival - on the connections between Sundanese and Cirebonese performing arts - was well received, and generated much debate related to Cirebonese aspirations for province-hood.

I returned thereafter to Yogya and attended a number of the wayang performances in a small wayang festival that was part of the Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta. This included a wayang gethuk, a lovely wayang wong presentation of Jitapsara which was performed by a gabungan of 5 Yogya-style groups under the direction of RM Kristiadi, wayang thengul from Bojonegoro, wayang kancil and wayang sasak. Unfortunately I missed out on a Japanese wayang group and wayang ukur.

In between, I attended part of a ketoprak festival, a teater kontemporer performance about the upcoming presidential election, and a sarasehan budaya on Hegemoni Budaya: Represi Politik di Dunia Seni that was part of the monthly dance seminar (every 22nd of the month, in different locations around Yogya).

After five months in Indonesia, I still am astounded by the variety and vitality of artistic activity in Yogya. What a pleasure it has been to be an observer, and occasional participant, in this.

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