Category Archives: Arts

National Center for the Performing Arts Beijing

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Most of the time, art is more of something to be appreciated by feelings rather than understanding. But in homogenous society, even among the well-educated, everything foreign tends to be a subject of study from a single perspective.

Beijing high society bragged about the spectacle of the country’s new wave of performing arts in Turandot, played in the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing two years after its inauguration. It is one of the most widely publicized Chinese operas in 2009, which is an adaptation of a masterpiece by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. It was met with positive reception. But it will take time before it is the public who commend, not the media.

Main hall 3

No city in the modern history of the world experienced such colossal transformation in a very short time the way Beijing had in the past decade. And few arts center had drawn such immense impact on social environment like the way NCPA had on urbanites in the capital city of China. It was not the only nouveau object approved by the authority in order to gain the world’s attention that had been frowned upon by its own citizens.

CCTV tower, dubbed the Big Pants, drew the same degree of criticism due to its peculiar shape. But what made NCPA so controversial to the locals was that it was built in the central area of power for the ruling regimes since many centuries ago. As if NCPA did not stop breaking the conventions in location only, the design was surely to make many Chinese scratch heads.

NCPA dome shape that gives a futuristic look makes a staggering contrast to the Soviet-style buildings that house many governmental institutions around the vicinity.

A number of people have begun this hate to love relationship with this building since the project was initiated in 2001. But apart from its appearance, NCPA still has to confront another issue, the shows.

Traditional Chinese operas and orchestra are still frequent programs as the two has enjoyed wide acceptance among Beijingers, but the introduction to foreign culture either through adaptation works like Turandot or imported shows, and more contemporary performance could take a longer process, as the Chinese society moves toward openness.

The quartet who play music, with a caveat

Actis Dato Quartet

Groups of musician insert a few elements of surprise in their shows to entice the increasingly discerning audience. They offer something different, but anticipated. Surely no one can’t blame them for trying.

Playing on the stage with a dark backdrop and under fixated dim lighting in Usmar Ismail Hall, Jakarta, Tuesday night, one would forgo the thought of visual spectacle that night and expect the most in auditory treats from evolving jazz of Italy and Middle East.

And then four of them came out of the main hall entrance instead of the backstage. They love to foray into the aisles and trigger the audience’s participation. As if one time seemed not enough, they reserved the energy for three more mood-rekindling rounds.

Seeing the taciturn audience before them, the band’s bearded front man, Carlo Actis Dato, who have played musical instrument since childhood, a similar case to the rest members, forcibly shouted at anyone seating in front of him to sing from the guts, dragged women to stomp their feet and dance alongside him.

Their choreography involved changing costumes and disassembling saxophone. All of this was done without losing the tempo, and the music never stopped playing.

Dedicated contemporary artists

If dedication is any indication, then Actis Dato Quartet is one of the most professional contemporary musicians of the world.

Their background in music can be stretched back into the very early formative years. Some of them were born into the family who either made a living from concert to concert or took music education seriously.

Their venture into jazz took considerable amount of effort and patience, rather than simply based on binding spontaneity overnight. They carefully thought of how to make a performance that as thrilling as their music.

They present themselves in an amusing way. Song selection fit into this disposition. The result on the stage was not at all an experiment, but a concerted effort to make a lasting impression.

Overshadowed by the comical gestures and laughters, they posed a warning about the commonly neglected notion, that the most important thing in music is to make incomprehensible tone and rhythm of a different part of the world entertaining to people.

As is the case with the term happiness, music is far beyond absolute definition, such as good melody or harmony. On top of that, music should make you feel good.

Actis Dato Quartet in Jakarta
Actis Dato Quartet live in Usmar Ismail Hall, Jakarta

 

Urban street dance project by United Dance Works

The performance at Erasmus Huis is a testament of perseverance by a struggling group of dancers in Jakarta. Coming from parts of the country to live up to their common dreams, they often hit rock bottom in the capital to survive with their choice.

They want to prove through every part of their bodies and every inch of their movements that they always find bliss in life decision, ever energetic, however bitter it sometimes gets.

For all that they have gone through, happiness is not measured in how much they have earned, but in how much they have achieved through choreography.

Joko Avianto’s Theatre of the Ships in GTF 2013

Following his rising status in the local art scene, notably his signature bamboo-based abstract installation at Ciputra World, Jakarta, 2010, and in Art Jog 2012, Joko Avianto brings out even bigger scale of his work this year in George Town, Malaysia. Avianto’s “The Theater of Ships” is the main giant visual treat in George Town Festival (GTF) 2013.

Situated between the iconic town hall and city hall, a municipal office gets a new radical exterior look with a facade consisting of around 3,000 bamboos. We are delighted to get the opportunity to enjoy this intricate design on the first day of GTF. The month-long festival stages a plethora of art works and cultural exhibitions across the city.

Huang Fong’s half century works in retrospective

huang fong

77 paintings of Huang Fong, a 77 year old proclaimed Indonesian master painter (pictured above) from Genteng, Banyuwangi,  is on exhibition in National Gallery, Jakarta, this month.

It is a retrospective of his 50 years dedication as a realist painter. Fong, a non-chalant artist who spent most of his life in Indonesia’snumber one tourism spot, Bali, delivered a speech that had helped the audience to forget it easily, a simple thank you wrapped in a sentence.

Him as a social being is a reflection of his abundant paintings, completed but kept undisclosed in the dusty corners of his room. The septuagenarian shows impeccable health as he is already renowned as a trainer for the morning exercise chores in his community.