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Interview with Eko Supriyanto


Choreographer of Balabala

What is your opinion on the social relevance of theatre/dance?

Being an artist, working in the performing arts – there has to be a feeling, an anxiety towards becoming a leader in society. I feel that artists need to be involved with many deep connections between the society, the community and the arts that surround the context / environment. As an artist, one needs to have that curiosity, to be inspired, to dive into the contexts and support the society, arts and community. To break the gap between the artistic technical fields and how the form can have a voice for that society. So that it can acknowledge at a deeper level, understand, re-continue, re-create and carry the bodies of knowledge into new encounters.

Most important is that artists have to become a leader.

What drives you to be creative?

What drives me to be creative is having and searching for a new challenge, the process of research and exploration for creating a work. That journey will push you to reach new levels of understanding towards oneself and towards the people you work with. Meeting new people, new friends, new territories – that’s the challenge to be creative. To ask many questions, find many images that can lead you not to the product but into a process.

What do the slow, rhythmic movements in the piece symbolise?

Movement activities in Indonesia are kind of slow. Women in Jailolo work hard, they are not pretentious, it’s about the practicalities of what needs to be done. It’s not about how fast or slow things are executed but the realities of life, how to take on the loads of responsibility for what needs to be done. Balabala is their experience.

This is not a piece that is trying to symbolise roles or activities. Technically, the movement form I am deconstructing is the war dance that is usually more dynamic and also usually danced by men. So it’s really about contracting the war dance, deconstructing it into slow movements.

To what extent do you see your performance as a discussion platform (for how we live together in today’s society)?

My work in Jailolo grew out of an invitation to work on a tourism festival. It could never be separated from the process, the connection to community and the youth of the region. There is a generational gap in the region. Children under the age of 12 learn the dances and rituals from adults over the age of 35 but inbetween there is a gap – a disconnection to their own history and vocabularies. North Maluku was a conflict area in the late 90s / early 2000, many people died in this time.
For me the process has been one of learning Indonesia’s maritime culture, looking at our cultural hierarchies and decentralisation, what preserving tradition means and diving – diving beneath the surface of the ocean and diving into the community and context.
The work is tied to important discussions but really the piece is about the process for the dancers who had no previous training, the youth of the region.


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