Dancing the sound of laborious work in Helatari Salihara 2017

webbanner-2017-mei-helatari-think archipelago

Helatari Salihara 2017 is Komunitas Salihara’s regular dance event held in Teater Salihara. think archipelago is a pround media partner of the event which runs from 8 untuk 18 June 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Helatari Salihara 2019 banner found in think archipelago website.

Photograph by Witjak Widhi Cahya, courtesy of Komunitas Salihara

The sounds axe, saw, knife, sandpaper and brush to make a traditional wood mask set the atmosphere for the choreographer Katia Engel’s latest work in Indonesia, From Starting to Cut the Wood. It conveys the process of the mask making process and its relation to the materials and work tools, which was interpreted by a solo dancer.

Ari Ersandi’s exploration and his response to the role character of a mask artisan was one of the most breathtaking performances at the Helatari Salihara 2017.

It began with a recorded voice by the seasoned mask artisan, “When I make a mask, first I choose the wood, second I cut the wood and thrid I choose what character I want to make.”

Another line from the same voice slipped into the middle, “When I paint I make two layers. I usually use red, blue, yellow and white and add for decoration an little bit of gold.”

Photograph by Witjak Widhi Cahya, courtesy of Komunitas Salihara

At the closing scene, the real mask artisan behind the voice showed up and continued his work in front of the audience. A life time dedication to a work of precision as represented in this case by the artist not only resulted in high craftmanship, but also made the work itself a spiritual journey.

From Starting to Cut the Wood is a dance based focusing on auditory sense created by wood mask carving, accompanied by the spoken words, and apparently with an influence of the choreographer, the frequent use of projected quotes by names such as:

‘Work is the fundamental condition of human life, and this to such an extent that in a certain way we have to say: it has created human mankind.’ – Friedrich Engels.

‘What is ahead of us, is the perspective of a working society, which is out of work-the only activity which it is still capable of. What could be more disastrous?’ – Hannah Arendt.

‘A mask is not what it represents, but what it transforms, and what it chooses not to represent.’ – Claude-Levi Strauss.

Katia Engel’s works

The sounds blend with the carver’s spoken words. Katia Engel creates performance works, installations, videos, photographs, and documentary films. She studied dance at Dance Institute Bremen and Laban-Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies New York.

Her works have been presented at many events, such as International Film Festival (Singapore), International Dance Festival Tokyo/Yokohama (Japan) and at Akademie der Künste (Berlin).

In 2012 Katia started producing dance work in Indonesia. As a choreographer and artistic director, she collaborated with former members of Gumarang Sakti Dance Company in the works of Tanah Air (2012) and In Between (2014), featured at the Indonesian Dance Festival Jakarta in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

An addition to her latest production in Indonesia is the documentary movie Barabah about the Indonesian choreographer Hoerijah Adam, screened at the Indonesian Dance Festival 2016.

Dance film performance in the streets of south Jakarta

webbanner-2017-mei-helatari-think archipelagoHelatari Salihara 2017 is Komunitas Salihara’s regular dance event held in Teater Salihara, Jakarta. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 8 until 18 June 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017 banner found in think archipelago website.


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The interaction between dancers, people on the streets, cinematographer, and a technology-savvy all in real time presents an art-technology work of the choreographer Yola Yulfianti in a dance film performance, a bold idea that poses challenges in not only the unfamiliarity of the new medium, but also in the country’s current mobile data infrastructure.

Angkot is the Melting Pot uses live streaming to highlight the city transportation in Jakarta. For Yola, the Jakarta’s ubiquitous public minivan (angkot) suggests the physical closeness of the passengers crammed inside, but in the awkwardness of a heterogeneous society.

She also tempted to raise the impact of app-based transportation to the drivers that eats up a huge share of customers this traditional public transportation is so dependent on.

The two dancers in a public minivan started performing all the way from Pasar Minggu to Galeri Salihara, where it hosted the Helatari Salihara 2017. While several times being dangerous to perform in the boisterous afternoon streets, they intuitively responded to the circumstances, the angkot, the shops, the intersection, the city itself.

Technology makes possible

The 30 minutes street dance performance was captured by the camera phone, transmitted to the gallery and projected live at Galeri Salihara.

Despite lagging due to low quality mobile data connection, the audio visual artist Patrick Hartono said it was expected that he was half satisfied with the first trial at D-1.

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Choreographer Yola Yulfianti and Cinematographer Purbo Wahyono talks to the press during rehearsal at Galeri Salihara, 17 June 2017

He admitted that the case would have been different in a more developed parts of the world, but he clinged to another view that art should not be affected by the perfect result, but more importantly, the clear evidence of the process.

Yola said that she had encountered the streets of Jakarta such as Kampung Melayu or Kwitang ever since 2009, and collected the observations in numerous places for the future basis of her subsequent works.

She added that the medium to implement her idea depends much on the technological possibility. Harnessing it would bring her works to the scope of audience an ordinary show cannot possibly reach, that is the people on the streets where the dance takes place, the audience sitting in the art venue, and the internet users stumbling across video sites such as youtube while browsing.

The purpose of this work is to explore the complexity of the city, about how to read the city and then write the city into a work and bring humanitarian interaction. The process of artistic research does not focus on mainstream art products and terminology.

Dance in social environment

Not a product of a work of dance or a film product but about experience in the realities of urban life. The ability of the body as a medium of expression relates to other mediums, producing work that grows organically born just as the process of extracting ideas.

As for the expression it becomes a total expression, the sensitivity of being a dancer through the digging of the media of digital technology revealing the symptoms of the city’s social environment.

Angkot is the Melting Pot is inspired by daily experiences when riding on Jakarta’s urban public transport, or angkot. Inside the public minivan, the distance between bodies seems negligible and yet so foreign.

About Yuli Yulfianti

Yola Yulfianti is a dancer and choreographer who graduated from Jakarta Institute of Arts. She received the Pearl Award at Dance Film International in Berlin in 2009. She also received Hibah Cipta Perempuan from Yayasan Kelola in 2014. Previous creations include Salma: A Little Escape (2013), Update Status (2013) dan I Think. . .Tonk (2014).

Helatari Salihara 2017

webbanner-2017-mei-helatari-think archipelagoHelatari Salihara 2017 is Komunitas Salihara’s regular dance event held in Teater Salihara, Jakarta. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 8 until 18 June 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017 banner found in think archipelago website.


This year’s Helatari showcases the development of dance in Indonesia departing from the influence of modern western dance, hip-hop, street dance or “free choreography”.

Lately, there are some choreographers who have developed a form of dance-theater in Europe. It also has departed from tanztheater or dance-theater during 1920s in Germany, of which the “theatrical” element began to play an important basis for choreography.

The choreographers have begun working on the idea of the banality of daily life, and the conflict it brought upon, by incorporating motion styles that the common dance fell short of noticing.

Helatari Salihara 2017 feature five choreographers with various concepts deriving from this banality.

The five choreographers

Helatari Salihara 2017 was opened by Emanuelle Vo-Dinh (France) with Sprint, supported by Institut Francais Indonesia. In Sprint, running is not just a symbol of displacement, nor a refuge, but an enlightenment, that is running because of something lurking and caused exhaustion. To run until exhausted, then comes natural rebirth.

Emmanuelle Vo-Dinh is Artistic Director of Le Phare, Center Chorégraphique National du Havre Haute-Normandie, France. He studied dance at Merce Cunningham School, New York.

In 1997 he founded the Sui Generis Company, as a place to create his distinctive choreographic style. He was awarded Prix d’Auteur Rencontres choregraphiques internationales de Bagnolet in 2000. With the concept of a single dancer, Sprint was created as a body enlightenment.

Melati Suryodarmo (Surakarta) will bring a Vertical Recall inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot theater script.

Melati stresses out that Vertical Recall is a philosophy interpreted into behavioral study of the Beckett’s script. It shows the human behavior that tends to surrender to difficult circumstances.

Over the past 13 years Melati’s works have been featured in numerous international festivals. Since 2007, together with Padepokan Lemah Putih, she organized Undisclosed Territory, a performance art program participated by Indonesian and international artists.

As for Mohammad Hariyanto (Surabaya), Ghulur Dance is inspired by Topeng Ghulur art in Barangan Village, Sumenep, Madura.

Katia Engel (Germany / Indonesia) presents From Starting to Cut the Wood, backed by the sounds of mask carvers while working.

Helatari will be closed by Angkot is the Melting Pot by Yola Yulfianti (Jakarta), which departs from reality in the city transportation (angkot) in Jakarta.

This event makes it obvious that dance inspiration in Jakarta has started to shift to the everyday life.