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Each year we have an Indonesian cultural festival and stage shows involving dancers. Last year the National Theatre of Vietnam came because they are reps of Far East culture just as the Indonesians are. Their performance was in the traditional style and then it moved into modern dance, this is one of the shots from the 2009 concert where they danced with traditional straw hats and ao dai's, with white shimmery tunics over them; the lilac spotlight is one through which they danced one by one:

This year the Festival sent for a group of dancers from Bali and joined them into a group based here in Holland who specialize in traditional Indonesian musical forms which have been enhanced with electronics. Unlike last year, there were lots of dramatic lighting effects, a video designer who deconstructed some of the movement and did image processing on it, a film projected onto the dancers and over them, hitting the backdrop; and also an electronic music composer. So it was kindasorta like a score for drums, cymbals, metallophones, and laptop. Here is one closeup of a dancer trying to escape from an evil spirit:

And here's a panorama of the stage, showing sharp handshadows on the rear screen, a blurry projection [real]; blurry dancers [not ""real""]; and lots of color variations: gamelan musicians in amber, dancers in white tones from the projector, and lavender backlighting:

The theme is finding the line between unreality and reality, between superstition and faith, between the seen and the unseen. Actually, it's not about finding that line, it's all about dancing up to it and through it.

The girl in the center of this platform is pretending to become a witch-doctoress/soothsayer/clairvoyant... great shadows behind her. We're invited to sense the reality of the shadows:

Now the "real"witch doctor/doctoress starts appearing: she transforms herself behind the lavender veil and the face of the new being is projected above her onto the screen:

Then the real sorceress/superstition-doctor-ess comes into being and threatens the other girls, even though the costume looks partly like an explosion in a wig shop:

After a somewhat violent session, the sorceress hides the girls in his/her long hair and scurries offstage.

Now the transformation from this to faith... you have to get out of your old beliefs, symbolized by your body, and the cast does this only through a struggle. Their bodies are being shrouded in white linen, they are changing into dot-particles which are being projected onto and into their bodies, and they have started to move on in spirit:

But not without more struggle as they are being accepted into another life:

And now as they are flooded with peace, only their arms are moving; finally they also stop, and arms raised outward and upward:

This all went on in concert for more than an hour, and it touches me as powerfully transcendent... which it is supposed to do. I was immediately reminded of family members and close friends who have moved on from this existence into another one, and how real their virtual lives are now. And of other Friends I know who are struggling with ominous illnesses within their physical bodies.

The fact that the stage, during the course of the concert, went from rich, murky, saturated colors to dazzling white --- that produced its own dazzle as well.

Part 2 of all this is in the post above [or, will be] and I'll explain more stuff about what a -gamelan- is, and some more about what is called Javanese Modern Dance.

But this concert is the main feast for your eyes and your heart.


kiota too late for the stars
Moonfire Marion Bridge / Brad

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