GKJ to Host Festival: Jakarta, West Java

Since its dawn, the capital of Indonesia has been known for its blend of culture and diverse lifestyles, both traditional and modern. Hence, a commemoration of the Jakarta’s establishment should be in the same taste.

Among the celebrations lined up for the capital’s 480th anniversary, one that will give a complete portrayal of Jakarta’s journey from its traditional past to its modern present is the Jakarta Anniversary Festival-V, themed Jakartamu, Jakartaku, Jakarta Kita Semua (Your Jakarta, My Jakarta, Our Jakarta).

The annual art and culture festival is to be held by Gedung Kesenian Jakarta from June 8 through 29, and will stage dance, music and theatrical performances.

The spirit of youths will presented through Skolastika Ansambel’s concert of contemporary works featuring soprano Linda Sitindjak on the opening day of the festival, under the direction of Marusya Nainggolan. Skolastika consists of students at Yayasan Putra Bahagia, SMP Lab School Kebayoran and SMU 3 Muhammadiyah, who will perform music that sounds messages of love for art, the environment and togetherness.

The festival theme is also the title of the percussion ensemble. Pongki Nuzirman’s vocal-piano-guitar composition titled Balada Capung (Ballad of the dragonfly) and Pedagang Asongan (Itinerant traders), a vocal ensemble and chamber music piece composed by Marusya Nainggolan, will be part of the opening performance.

On June 13, Jakarta’s international character will be shown by the Sax Appeal Quartet from Italy in the Colonne Sonore In Concerto concert.

Deborah Vivo (saxophone), Giannina Guazzaroni (violin), Gloria Frontini (flute) and Margherita Scafidi (harp) will entertain music lovers with tunes from modern musicals such as Tonight from the well-known Broadway show West Side Story, and covers of movie theme songs such as I Will Always Love You from The Bodyguard. Representing their culture of origin, they will perform Romeo e Giulietta, featuring Nino Rota and Henry Mancini’s Medley di Colonne Sonore.

A contemporary touch will be presented on June 17 in a jazz concert featuring Tompi and Groovology. Tompi will perform songs from his new album Playful along with several tracks from his previous albums.

Tompi has said he will prepare special arrangements of his songs for this particular occasion, so they will be different from his studio recordings.

Although Jakarta is the focus of the festival, it cannot be separated from other regions in the country that have influenced its culture. On June 19, the festival will take you to the lost lands of Borneo with the Dedy Lutan Dance Company and dancers from East Kutai, East Kalimantan, who will guide audiences into Tanah Yang Hilang.

Dedy is known for his choreography, which finds roots in his anxiety. For Tanah Yang Hilang, he found inspiration in the environmental problem of how woodlands have been turned into wastelands, the jungle silenced without the sound of birds chirping and orangutans calling. The dance will be accompanied by Dayak women singers who will chant an indigenous song about natural beauty, heroism, peace and tranquility that dissolves into grief, pain and sorrow.

From Kalimantan, Jakartans will be taken to Yogyakarta in a dance based on the local metaphor of Mampir Ngombe (Stop for tea), staged on June 21 by The Banjarmili Dance Studio. The dance — created by M. Miroto has created and incorporating 30 traditional and contemporary masks — is a reflection on the short journey of human life as mirrored in common behaviors, like stopping along a journey for a glass of tea.

The dance also portrays deep concerns over recent disasters such as the Yogyakarta earthquake, the tsunami in Aceh, the Bali bombings and the Poso conflict.

Javanese cultural performances will also feature in the festival on June 22, with the Wayang Orang Satya Budaya Indonesia troupe bringing the story of Dewi Perjiwati, taken from Javanese folklore.

The story starts with Raden Ontoseno — son of Raden Bima — who wants to marry Dewi Perjiwati of the Parang Kingdom. On his journey to realize his wish, Ontoseno must face numerous obstacles from his rival, Raden Aswotomo, the son of Betari Wilutomo.

On June 27, the theaterical work Seratus Menit (One hundred minutes), directed by Putu Wijaya and performed by Theater Mandiri, will take a look at daily life in the capital, cover the issues of freedom, equality, human rights, women in modern society, leadership, morality and other social imbalances.

Closing the festival is the more comical show of Ketoprak Guyon Campur, to be performed June 29 by Paguyuban Puspobudoyo.

Within the setting of the 15th century Demak kingdom, the group will present the history of Jakarta’s founding. The play traces the story of Prince Fadilah (also Fadilah Khan, Tubagus Pasai, Fatahillah) and his journey to become the protectorate of Jayakarta — later called Jakarta.

The Jakarta Anniversary Festival-V looks set to be a balanced event, reminding of the capital’s long history and contemplating the challenges its multicultural citizenry and modern lifestyles have on its society.

All performances will start at 8 p.m., except on opening day when shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Camelia Pasandaran