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10th Indonesian Dance Festival: Goethe Institut Regional Critic Workshop

June 14-18, 2010


 Da Contents H2

INDIGENOUS DANCE: DANA WARANARA
January 27 2016
Dana Waranara—Privilege and Responsibility
Andrea James

introduction
July 12 2010
10th indonesian dance festival: dance, future tense
keith gallasch: regional dance criticism workshop, jakarta


a dance work revived: faith restored
devi fritrai: gusmiati suid, seruan

aspiration and influence
joelle jacinto: final night idf program

beyond absence
bilquis hijjas: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

borderline control
giang dang: contact gonzo

cool tensions
giang dang: s]h]elf

dancing between tradition & modernity
devi fitria: idf emerging choreographers

dancing into identity
melissa quek: idf emerging choreographers program

dancing to the threshhold
bilqis hijjas: cross over dance company, middle

July 12 2010
earth's slow death dance
melissa quek: asri mery sidowati’s merah

fighting as performance
cat ruka: contact gonzo and sayaka himeno

foreign bodies
giang dang: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

from betamax to dvd
san phalla: jeckosdance, from betamax to dvd

indonesian contemporary dance: multiple personalities
melissa quek: idf closing program

into the vortex
devi fitria: asri mery sidowati’s merah

journey into light
joelle jacinto: asri mery sidowati’s merah

love and its disconnects
cat ruka: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

noise in contemporary asian dance
pawit mahasarinand: darkness poomba and contact gonzo

July 12 2010
one shoe on, one shoe off
bilqis hijjas: muslimin b pranowo, the young

shaking the spectator's heart
phalla san: kim jae duk, darkness poomba

strange worlds, mutating forms
cat ruka: kim jae duk's darkness poomba

such is life, and so is love
pawit mahasarinand: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher's maybe forever

when does forever end?
joelle Jacinto: meg stuart & philipp gehmacher’s maybe forever

working the audience
melissa quek: contact gonzo & darkness poomba

 

fighting as performance

cat ruka: contact gonzo and sayaka himeno

Cat Ruka is an emerging choreographer and performance artist from Auckland, New Zealand. She is currently developing her interest in dance criticism and is the editor of Yellingmouth, an Auckland-based dance review blog.

contact Gonzo, Public Space contact Gonzo, Public Space
photo Phalla San
FOUR YOUNG JAPANESE MEN CASUALLY ENTER THE STAGE WHILE THE HOUSE LIGHTS ARE UP. THEY ARE WEARING T-SHIRTS AND TRACK-PANTS AND HAVE PERFORMANCE PASSES AROUND THEIR NECKS. ONE IS CARRYING A BACKPACK, OTHERS HAVE WATER BOTTLES AND THERE IS A VIDEO CAMERA ON A TRIPOD. THEY COULD WELL BE MISTAKEN FOR BACKSTAGE HELPERS PREPARING THE STAGE FOR THE NEXT ACT, BUT AS THEY EMPTY THEIR POCKETS, SET OBJECTS ON THE GROUND AND BEGIN TO WARM UP, IT BECOMES CLEAR THAT THEY ARE NOT. THEY ARE CONTACT GONZO, A JAPANESE DANCE GROUP.

For a few minutes they pace, lunging, stretching arms out every now and then, not in a dancerly fashion but as though about to run a 100m sprint. The physical and mental preparation generates suspense—the audience wondering what the heck is going on.

Eventually two of the men connect, not in the sense of contact improvisation where physical connection is utilized to explore movement, but rather as in sport or combat. They push and tussle, climbing on top of one another, every now and then dropping away to reposition, grab a drink of water or take a photo with a disposable camera. Gradually the battle escalates and without warning one strikes another in the face, the sound of palm to skin cutting through the air and triggering horrified gasps from the audience. The shock is amplified as suddenly from behind a backlit cyclorama a drummer improvises wildly. Crashing, banging, attacking, showing the drum-kit who's boss, her huge, ominous shadow is an intriguing backdrop to the onstage male brawn.

An everyday performance paradigm coupled with the invitation to raw violence instils an immediate sense of the unconventional. Contact Gonzo take their name from the rebellious Gonzo journalism made famous by American journalist Hunter S Thompson. The exposure of what is normally hidden from an audience—the warming up, setting up, drinking—parallels the raw and un-edited subjectivity of the Gonzo style of writing, in which grit is favoured over polish. Thompson documented his own actions while immersed in journalistic projects, a reflexive technique also evident in Contact Gonzo’s use of cameras on stage.

As the performers wrestle, a cell-phone rings in the audience. A number of people nearby show their disgust with forceful shushing, but one of the performers reassures them, “No it’s okay. It’s okay.”

More violent slaps to the face are thrown from every which way, more piles of bodies rise up, tumble and loudly crash to the floor. At times the fighting looks like a casual urban realization of traditional Sumo wrestling. Contact Gonzo battle on, but to what end? A highly charged testosterone display gratuitously taking advantage of theatre space to flex a bit of muscle? There is no emotional narrative here. The performers just are. They fight.

It's no surprise to me that this young team of performers are currently being invited to perform in festivals all over the world, despite the work appearing to be more an uncontrollable event rather than a finely-crafted performance. It is clear however that this group has a precise agenda, and their unique antics ensure that they stand out from the rest of the program.

Contact Gonzo is a highly innovative ‘dance’ company who unabashedly challenge established theatrical norms. Representative also of a contemporary consciousness in which violence and technology are mutually implicit, I’m sure their work will act as an interesting reference point in critical dance discussions for years to come.


10th Indonesian Dance Festival: contact Gonzo and Sayaka Himeno, public space, Graha Bhakti Sudaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta, June 14.

See Dang Giang and Melissa Quek's reviews of the street performance by contact Gonzo.

Cat Ruka is an emerging choreographer and performance artist from Auckland, New Zealand. She is currently developing her interest in dance criticism and is the editor of Yellingmouth, an Auckland-based dance review blog.

© Cat Ruka; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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