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My dancing career

Inspired by accordingtod and trilingual I decided to share some experiences as an Indonesian Traditional Dancer.

When I was a child I attended Balinese and Javanese dance lessons. After a while I tended to love Balinese more than Javanese dances. So after tari golek and tari bondan, I stopped the Javanese dance lessons. My shows as a child were at the end of the lesson’s year or during the celebration of the Independence Day in my neighbourhood where I lived. Of course, beside traditional dancing I also love to do modern dance. So I did join my High School’s dance group (PKC, SMA 70 Bulungan). At my last year at High School, I did some cheerleading also, but deep in my heart I found it a bit too western for me at that time. At the university, I was often asked to dance, both traditional or modern.
Between 1995 – 1997 I wasn’t able to dance since I was new here in NL and knew nobody. In 1998 I met an Indonesian woman from Bandung. We agreed to establish a dance group due to our annoyance seeing many dance groups in NL presenting themselves as Indonesian Dance Group but they didn’t perform original Indonesian Dances. Some were so bad, they wore kebaya, a loose sanggul & with a bit of Gamelan Music, they dared to call it Traditional Indonesian Dance. We learned from each other (she taught me Jaipongan, I gave her some Balinese & Javanese dance lessons). We were very keen on preserving the original Indonesian dance that we visited dance workshops (at ASTI, Bandung & ASTI, Solo) everytime we visited Indonesia to learn more.
After two years, the dance group succeeded in gaining some network and clients. We danced mostly for Indonesian or Indo Events, shows at Pasar Malam or even the Silver or Golden Annniversaries of Indo pairs. On top of it we were asked by KBRI Madrid & Rabat (Morocco) to perform there (the pic above is me (on the right) & N performing Banda Urang, Jaipongan at KBRI Madrid in June 2004). One particular place in Arnhem is like our second house kumpulan. Here many parties & reunions took place where I performed.
Indonesian Traditional Dancing gives me satisfaction & makes me feel a real Indonesian. I am proud of Indonesian Culture and love showing it to others. Especially when the audience is really interested in the culture (normally there’s an explanation about the dance before the show). I would gladly explain not only the dance itself but also the costume.
Funny or Sad stories during my dancing career: Once I was performing tari Gambyong with two other dancers. Just after we began I felt my Kemben (top) got off, fortunately the moves allowed me to cover it which I managed till the end. Other funny story which I can never forget is when I had to do my first exam for Balinese dance, if I’m not mistaken I must be 7 years old then. So, there I was, nervous at the backstage waiting for my turn to perform tari Pendet because everyone (dad, mom, sisters, uncles and aunties) was there to see me perform. Suddenly I heard the intro of the gamelan & just jumped up to the stage, after the third turn I saw my teacher whispering at me, ‘Yoyen, you are still wearing your flip flops!’. Immediately I went backstage to take them off accompanied by the laugh of the audience of course, but hey I passed the exam :-D!
Another funny story I often experienced were the shows during reunions of ex KNIL-ers or regions where the indische nederlanders (Indo) come from (reuni Palembang, reuni Bandung, reuni Yogya etc…etc..). After the show, people go dance mostly rock and roll, twist and jive but sometime Waltz. There I was waltzing with an old man in my Jaipongan or Balinese dance costume. It was very difficult to catch his steps due to the tight Kain I wore.
Sad story: this happened during the show in a home for the Indo elderly. At the end of the show, we asked the audience to dance with us. Two very old ladies with a thick Sundanese accent asked me if they could go home with me. I told them that I lived in NL too (just in case they thaught I was especially flown from Indonesia to perform there) but they were too demented to understand this & started to cry. I felt really sad, they must have taught that I was being mean to them.
In 2006 I stopped dancing for two reasons: I don’t have the body of a dancer anymore (udah ibu ibu) and don’t have enough time to practice (one child, full time job & part time study). The hectic backstage is what I miss the most. Feeling the adrenaline coming, checking my make up & costume for the tenth times and trying to remember my own position on stage well.

11 thoughts on “My dancing career

  1. Wonderful experience you’ve got. Gw punya temen2 yang bakat menari, but unlike you, they prefer the modern one.

    I’ve also seen some Indonesian dancers abroad who didn’t perform well at all …with wrong kebaya and sanggul, and wrong movements! It’s nice that a talented dancer like you actually do something about it, successfully! (mmm mau juga jadi backstage kalau kapan2 elo diundang lagi oleh kbri laen heheh).

    I hope later on you will dance and perform actively again, Lorraine.

  2. Lorraine, I was a keen dancer too. Among others, I took my Balinese and a bit of my Betawi/ Sundanese classes in Bulungan. I thought I have retired… but this morning I got a call requesting me and my other friend who just gave birth last week to perform Tari Rantak in October. I am still 15 kilos heavier than the last time I danced. LOL. I said yes anyway. I thought my kids would enjoy tagging along to the practice sessions.

  3. I always admire people who treasure local culture, though she is now has become “ibu-ibu”, lol.
    Lorraine, waktu di Amerika misi kesenian Indonesia selalu mendapatkan review positif dari media setempat. Mereka menganggap tarian Indonesia, selain eksotis, juga dianggap sebagai salah satu masterpiece dunia seni Timur.
    Thanks for sharing your adrenalin experience backstage.🙂
    (Toni)

  4. I always want to be a dancer, but apa daya I don’t have good body coordination and my body is so stiff😀

  5. @ Santi, ngga apa2 nari modern cuma jangan dicampur2 dan diaku tari tradisional. Ini yang buat gw gregetan banget. Ngga tau deh San nari lagi atau ngga, costumenya kekecilan semua ha..ha..

    @ Kat, wah tari Betawi? I'd love to learn tari Ngarojeng & Ronggeng Blantek. Tari Betawi is very expressive & dynamic. Its costume is rich of mixed cultures (Chinese & Portugese Influences). I wish you happpy practising with the Tari Rantak show in October.

    @ Mas Toni, now I'm treasuring Original Indonesian Cuisine instead of Indonesian dance🙂. Seriously, aku memang mulai grup nari ini untuk memperlihatkan ke publik NL tari2an dari daerah lain di Indonesia selain Bali. Aku denger sekarang2 ini tari Saman di Indonesia lagi in ya? Bagus deh udah mulai diapresiasi bangsa dewe, jadi bawa keluarnya lebih mudah.

    @ Ecky, practice makes perfect. It is never too late to learn.

  6. Lorraine, aku paling gak bisa nari. Tari apa juga gak bakat sama sekali. Tapi kalau aerobik bisa dan cepat hafal gerakan-nya. Makanya pundak-ku rada kekar karena aku penggila olah raga.

    Sekali2 narinya di you tube dong, biar bisa nonton dari sini🙂 Badan masih bagus begitu kok masih gak pede juga. Sini di vermaak sama obras keliling…hehehe..becanda ya!

  7. Hai Lorraine,
    Keep on dancing dong. Saya juga ikut grup tari di sini dan sering pentas dan masuk tv (mmmh ngga muat) sejak punya anak, jadi sekali2 aja tapi masih tetep nari.

  8. El, waktu jamannya aku aktif nari Youtube belum ada (nah, ketahuan khan jamannya masih baheula banget). Nanti deh tak upload video murid2ku nari, ok!

    Lisa, sekarang aku puas jadi pembantu backstage aja kok.

  9. Seruu… sayangnya gw ga bisa nari😦 ga tau kenapa tapi kaki kiri dan kaki kanan selalu tidak sepakat.. wkwkwkwk…

  10. Yoyen, I enjoy reading this posting. You are a senior dancer, in my opinion. When I was little and was living in Surakarta, I was sent to a ‘pendopo tari’ or something like that. My favorite was the one where you slammed the ‘kendi’ to the floor.
    Growing up, I was a modern dancer *wish I keep up with the traditional one* and a club dancer. Mwahuahuahua… :p
    Are you going to teach your daughter some traditional Indonesian dance?

  11. Senior dancer? A retired one Din.

    My daughter G likes Balinese dancing better than the Javanese. She is now learning Street Dance but I notice that she has that gracious moves. I plan to teach her some basic Javanese & Balinese dances.

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