Entertainment · June 24, 2022

Traditional dance with a twist

A pleasantly intimate blend of contemporary and traditional performance directed by Zhafir Muzani

LAST Sunday was the grand finale of The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat Cons: Bianglala Series at Sentul Park Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (klpac) for the weekend. The mixed repertoire performance featured six emotional traditional Malay contemporary dances of different styles performed by six choreographers.

Divided into two parts with a four-minute vocal break from ApisK in between, the performance is introduced Sujud, a stirring experimental piece by Zhafir Muzani, the show’s director and host. Before the first dance began, Zhafir asked for a moment of prayer and silence for those passing by. Despite holding back his tears, he danced his heart and tears out for the audience.

“Sujud” is the act of prostration to God, and the performance seemed to be about oneness with the Creator and nature. The dancing was intense and almost animalistic, like insects preparing for a fight. With long pieces of tie-dye scattered in four corners of the stage, the four performers took turns gracing the four corners of the stage, two dancers, a flutist and a singer. ApisK hummed melodiously and MK Ridzuan didn’t disappoint with his hauntingly beautiful flute.

After the emotional first piece, it went on AKU maua Tari Inai inspired dance choreographed by Dayang Norinah. Bianglala was a props-heavy performance, but that didn’t bother me as it allowed the performers to interact with the audience, which is what I liked best about the event.

I sat in the second row enjoying the intimate setting of the stage and my favorite part AKU mau So they used a round metal tray to reflect the light into the audience, which made it so poignant in a good way.

The third dance was Buu Gengperformed by Dickson Chang and Sharm Noh, who used magnetized crescent moon props to perform a mesmerizing illusion-cum-flow art performance.

After a short break, the quirky and fun Tari Terinai (candle dance) inspired dance was danced, nian by Izzie Islam. Wearing a male Victorian nightgown with clown make-up, Izzie interacted with the audience, who expressed their delight with roaring laughter. The two dancers were flawless and I particularly enjoyed Xin Ping’s strong lines.

The second act after the break presented some technical difficulties, but it was worth the wait. Choreographed by Yee Teng, a relatively young choreographer, MULAN was surprisingly entertaining, especially Eling’s part where she danced in front of the lights. The way they played with the silhouettes was adorable, so props to the lighting team Kelvin, but also to Yusman Mokhtar, lighting designer and operator for the entire show.

The only performance that fell short was SATIN, which I had more expectations for than the final dance. I would have liked to have seen more explanation and purpose behind all the dances, as well as more coherent and synchronized dancing. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable performance.

$!  ASWARA graduate Yee Teng uses femininity and masculinity to tell the story of MULAN.  - Chew SENG CHEONG

ASWARA graduate Yee Teng uses femininity and masculinity to tell the story of MULAN. – Chew SENG CHEONG