The island of Sumatra is home to Nan Jombang, a family of artists whose work is a compelling mix of Minangkabau performing arts traditions (drumming, dance, martial arts), spirituality, and contemporary movement. Center stage repertory: 55-minute work Rantau Berbisik by artistic director Ery Mefri.
Percussive, persuasive and vital modern dance.
Rantau Berbisik (Whisperings of Exile) is inspired by a long-standing custom of this matrilineal society, where inheritance accrues to daughters. Sons are expected to leave home and earn the means necessary to support a wife and children before settling down. Often they open a Minangkabau food shop in other parts of Indonesia or abroad. For many Sumatrans today, success is bittersweet because they do not return. Mefri’s dance is set in one of these shops. The work’s vocabulary draws on the Randai with movements based on pencak silat (a self-defense art), a live soundscape created by chants, claps and body percussion of the performers, and Tari Piring (Plate Dance) which originated as part of the paddy harvest party and tests a performer’s adroitness and skill.
Well known in Indonesia, Nan Jombang is increasingly in demand abroad. They have appeared at the Esplanade in Singapore and toured to Seoul, the Philippines, Germany’s Theater der Welt and four Australian festivals in 2010. They performed at the Zuercher Theater Spectacle in Switzerland and in Berlin in the Fall of 2011.
“This was a moving and profound evening if dance. If you can still get a ticket, do so.” (Glam Adelaide/Australia)