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.