Mon, 17 Jan 2000

Administration postpones Betawi dance festival

JAKARTA (JP): The city administration has announced it will postpone the staging of a national Betawi traditional dance festival to allow for further preparation.

The festival, organized jointly with the Artist Solidarity Foundation (YAS), was earlier set to be held on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20.

"We are not canceling the festival, we just need more time to prepare for it," city spokesman Muhayat said at City Hall on Friday after a coordination meeting to discuss the preparations.

Artists from various dance groups and arts academies from seven provinces across the country are to perform in the festival. It is estimated to cost some Rp 229 million (US$31,800).

Muhayat said the schedule had been set by foundation chairwoman, Erna Santosa, without consultation with the City Culture Agency and other related institutions.

"The chairman of the Betawi Culture Board (LKB), Irwan, also questioned the event as the board hadn't been informed about it and it would be impossible to prepare such a festival in just one month," he added.

"We are the rightful owners of the dances, which are full of religious expression. We need to guard them from any deviations," Irwan was quoted as saying by Muhayat.

"Especially when the dances are to be performed by non-Betawi dancers," he added.

Irwan also questioned why the city administration did not respond to the board's 1997 proposal for a similar festival.

Erna, however, demanded the culture agency head, Syahrial, hold the festival as planned because it had been delayed twice since last November.

"I have used some Rp 60 million of my own to finance the festival preparations," she added. (05)