The ‘Rantau Berbisik’ dance is performed by Padang group Nan Jombang. (Europalia Arts Festival Indonesia/Feri Latief)
The Rantau Berbisik dance performance brought a contemporary touch to the Europalia Festival in Austria, depicting the West Sumatra Minangkabau tradition of merantau, in which young leave home, by incorporating traditional martial arts and other Minang elements.
The Europalia Arts Festival began in October 2017 in Brussels and is set to run until January 2018 in several countries across Europe, presenting Indonesian arts and culture throughout the region.
As reported by tempo.co, Rantau Berbisik was performed on Monday by six dancers from Padang group Nan Jombang, which is led by Ery Mefri. The performance took place at the Weltmuseum in Vienna.
Built in 1876, the Austrian museum has for the past several years worked together with the Indonesian Embassy in Vienna to host performances and book launches on the history and culture of Indonesia.
The Rantau Berbisik dance incorporates silat (martial arts) movements and is accompanied by signature music, as the dancers hit makeshift instruments, such as plates and glasses.
The performance was attended by Viennese residents, fans of Indonesian culture and arts, as well as invited guests, including academics from Vienna University of Technology (TUW) and University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The crowd enthusiastically applauded the performance.
Stephan Taibl, Pencak Silat Association head in Austria, watched the performance with his family and praised the dancers.
“I really understand the movements in the dance as the majority are silat techniques and not easy to do. Their breathing technique is amazing,” Stephan said.
A Min Tjoa, Indonesia-Austria Relations Institute head, also echoed this sentiment.
“I’m sure this kind of contemporary dance performance would be enjoyed by the wider public in Austria. They can certainly perform at larger events in Austria such as the international contemporary dance festival Impulstanz,” Tjoa said.
Indonesian Ambassador to Vienna Darmasjah Djumala explained in his opening remarks at the event that merantau was a well-known Minangkabau tradition. Their motivation is not only economically driven, but also aims to prepare young Minangkabau men to be strong and rich in life experiences.
Each family in Minang prepares their sons to travel by providing them with, among other things, a basic religious foundation, education, and martial arts skills. (liz/kes)