|l-r: Devi Fitria, Melissa Quek, Dinyah Dinyah Latuconsina (Cultural Program Assistant), Keith Gallasch, Giang Dang, Joelle Jacinto, Cat Ruka, Bilqis Hijjas, Pawit Mahasarinand|
photo Phalla San
Amidst the festival hubub, new cuisine experiences, nerve wracking city traffic and World Cup tensions (after all, our host was a proud and anxious Goethe Institut), the workshop team saw shows, discussed and wrote (late at night or early in the morning), read each other's reviews and shared knowledge and opinions.
The workshop participants were a fascinating mix: some had professional dance and producing experience, some were already reviewing, running blogs or contributing to magazines and newspapers, others were starting out.
Cat Ruka from New Zealand is a dancer, performance artist and the editor of Yellingmouth, an Auckland-based dance review blog. Melissa Quek from Singapore is a choreographer, a teacher at LASALLE College of the Arts
and a freelance dance reviewer for The Business Times. Joelle Jacinto from the Philippines is a dancer and a freelance writer with many years of experience. She is editor-in-chief of Runthru, a bi-annual dance magazine and website. Bilqis Hijjas creates, performs, produces, teaches and writes about contemporary dance in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and runs a residency for choreographers at the private arts centre Rimbun Dahan. Devi Fitria is a Jakarta-based journalist who works for the Indonesian art magazine ARTI and an online history magazine, HISTORIA. San Phalla lives in Phnom Penh, holds degrees in Southeast Asian Studies and archaeology and works as a researcher for Khmer Arts, a Cambodian classical dance company that tours the world. Dang Giang, from Vietnam, is a writer and cultural and social activist.
photo Keith Gallasch
Dance scholar, archivist and writer Franz Anton Cramer (Paris/Berlin) delivered two talks, one on the ethics and aesthetics of criticism and the other an invaluable and subsequently hotly debated introduction to the works of Meg Stuart and Philipp Gehmacher who were performing Maybe Forever in the festival.
The aim of the workshop was to improve the capacity of reviewers to vividly evoke the works they experience for their readers. Good reviewing (whether or not it consciously includes social, political and economic perspectives and passes critical judgment) cannot work effectively without this skill. Openness, strong recall, rich vocabulary, a structured response, the careful delivery of judgment, these were the workshop focus.
I was pleased that all participants willingly and bravely committed themselves to a challenging task—to respond very quickly to new dance works while focusing on writing skills and being subjected to criticism. As you read the reviews posted here do keep in mind that they were written under pressure and with limited time for editing and polishing. Despite these demands there are fine examples of vivid and thoughtful writing to be found in the 23 reviews that came out of a mere four days of what appeared to be happy labour. It was particularly pleasing to see increased attention not just to movement details but also to music, sound, set design, lighting and the ways in which, in this era of hybridity, various forms mix and meld.
The festival provided challenges for all of us in the workshop. Many works drew on traditional dance, customs and beliefs, sometimes leaving us guessing as to specific meanings while fascinated with what we seen. It's doubly difficult given that the works are themselves contemporary interpretations or re-workings of traditional forms. Sometimes one of our number had an answer, or we googled one, provisonally, knowing that a dance festival like this one can only serve as an introduction to unfamiliar forms. Inevitably we debated the advisability of reviewing works where we lacked cultural understanding—would we misrepresent what we saw or were we encouraging interest and a sense of inquiry?
Other issues discussed included the significance, or not, of English language dance reviewing in Asia, a shortage of good editing, and a certain reviewer caution about being judgmental—verbal opinions were often tougher than those that appeared in print, said a number of participants.
|l-r: Giang Dang, Phalla San, Joelle Jacinto [outside theatre]|
photo Keith Gallasch
It's hoped that the workshop will further the bringing together of dance artists and writers in the region.
The initials of the workshop writers will link you to their reviews of the following works:
Kim Jae Duk Project, Darkness Poomba [South Korea]: PS, CR, MQ, PM
contact Gonzo [Japan]: CR, GD, PM, MQ
Gusmiati Suid, Seruan [Indonesia]: DF
Asry Mery Sidowat, Merah [Indonesia]: JJ, MQ, DF
Muslimin B Pranowo, The Young [Indonesia]: BH
Jecko Siompo, From Betamax to DVD [Indonesia]: PS, MQ, JJ
Eko Supriyanto, Home: Ungratifying Life [Indonesia]: JJ, MQ
Vincent Sekwati, Barena ‘Chiefs’ [Indonesia]: MQ
Shinta Maulita, GAYaku [Indonesia]: DF, MQ
Ajeng Soelaiman, Andara Firman, S]h]elf [Indonesia]: GD
Cross Over Dance Company, Middle [Taiwan]: BH
Meg Stuart, Philipp Gehmacher, Maybe Forever [Berlin/Vienna]: BH, CR, GD, JJ, PM
Joko Sudibyo, Cekrek [Indonesia]: MQ, DF
Closing Night Performance: JJ, MQ
Emerging Choreographers Program: MQ, DF
You can see all 23 reviews at 10th Indonesian Dance Festival: Goethe Institut Regional Critic Workshop
Goethe Institut Indonesia, Regional Dance Critic Workshop, June 14-18, held during the 10th Indonesian Dance Festival, "Powering the Future", June 14-17
This article first appeared online July 12, 2010
RealTime issue #99 Oct-Nov 2010 pg. web
© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com