Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 11/12/2010

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Can the history of humanity be condensed into a single ballet?

The Namarina Youth Dance troupe tried to and wowed the audience at the Jakarta Playhouse (GKJ) in early November with their performance of The Story of Man.It was a four-sequence ballet performance that depicted the history of humanity from the Adam and Eve parable of the first humans to the Renaissance to the 21st century. The Story of Man is a true artistic endeavor from the 54-year-old ballet school.

Dinar Karina and Susi Anddri choreographed the ballet, incorporating classical ballet with contemporary dance as well as traditional Balinese dance. The performance offered interesting combinations in line with the school’s style, which is renowned for its innovative and progressive dances.

Namarina, the oldest ballet school in Southeast Asia, presented the Namarina Youth Dance troupe’s fifth season performance at the Jakarta Playhouse on Nov. 5 and 6. Twenty-eight ballet dancers supported the performance.

“The story recounts the journey of mankind, which is full of various problems, achievements and disasters,” the program introduction said.

The ballet dancers performed to live music played by the Rhythm Salad League, a unique fusion group that has elements of ethnic, classic, jazz and pop music, allowing them to present a wide possibility of music styles to accompany the dance.

The performance started with the biblical story of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. A beautiful pas de deux featuring one male and one female ballet dancers in khaki and gold colored costume showed the fate of Adam and Eve starting their new life outside the Garden of Eden. The first part of the performance was titled Man and Nature. Dinar Karina choreographed the first sequence into four parts. The first part was followed by Children of Earth with dancers that depicted Adam and Eve’s kin exploring the mountains, valley and jungle while abiding by laws of nature.

The end of the first part was dubbed When Kings Are Gods. Ballerinas danced and posed on a tall wooden frame that represented man-made monuments. A white sheet was drawn in front of the ballet dancers and a woman danced while a man in a black cloak stood and watched. The man in the black cloak represented the dark side of humanity as the woman was sacrificed.

In part two, dancers wore costumes inspired by 15th-century Europe to depict the Renaissance. Sussi Anddri showed her masterful choreography in a sequence titled The Age of Reason. The second sequence was also divided into four parts. Two ballerinas danced and did synchronized pirouettes marking the end of Dark Age. A ballerina sat on a swing that continued to rise above other dancers to symbolize the early Renaissance.Part three, The 20th Century, was an energetic performance made dramatic by the play of light on the stage. Tutus were replaced with violet and gold body suits. Ballet shoes were left backstage and ballerinas danced barefoot.

The ballerinas changed into colorful T-shirts and leggings doing classical arabesque poses and combining them with modern fast moves.

The dynamic dance attempted to depict the fast changes of the 20th century — from the end of slavery, the rise of human rights, environmentalism and the emergence of rock music.

The last part of the performance was titled In Search of the New Ideals. The curtain that covered the band was opened. Dancers in modern costumes danced in front of the band and a wall that was covered with large scribbling on the state of today’s art. The ballerinas danced individually to upbeat music by Ojos de Brujo, Agatsuma and Rhythm Salad League.

At the end of the performance, Susi Anddri, Dinar Karina and Namarina director Maya Antar bowed in front of the audience. They joined all dancers clapping their hands to the playing of Rhythm Salad League. As the music ended and the curtains closed, Namarina once again served Jakarta ballet lovers an enchanting treat.

(The Jakarta Post, Jumat, 12 November 2010. Oleh Prodita Sabarini)

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