Fri, 07 Mar 2003

EKI tackles new theme with 'China Moon'

Yusuf Susilo Hartono, Contributor, Jakarta

After its success exploring the most sensual of man's senses in last year's Gallery of Kisses, the Eksotika Karmawibhangga Indonesia (EKI) dance company is returning to the stage with the Chinese-themed show The 3rd Urban Ritual China Moon.

The show, which will be staged from March 6 to March 8 at the GoetheHaus in Menteng, Central Jakarta, marks the group's first exploration of this theme.

"We have wanted to stage a Chinese-themed show for a long time. But non-Chinese themes always come first. Now we feel ready, though previously we felt awkward because many of us are Chinese-Indonesians," EKI choreographer and director Rusdy Rukmarata, a graduate of the London Contemporary School, said while preparing the show.

The performance explores a key phrase among Chinese- Indonesians: "I am not Chinese".

China Moon is a composite of dance, song and acting centered around a married couple, Wei Wei and Ce Cien. The wife is a tailor while her husband does not have a steady job, spending most of his time at home taking care of his Lou Han fish, which he believes will bring him kang tau (fortune).

Wei Wei calls himself "not Chinese" because he is poor. It is this perception that is at the center of the 90-minute performance. It also tells of Wei Wei's son, who mingles with hoodlums, their housekeeper, who plays a dominant role in the house, memories of love and being terrorized by "street singers" -- six saxophonists.

With jazz in the background, Betawi-style comedic scenes and ballet dancing with a touch of Betawi and Banyuwangi give the show its enchantment.

Created by Rusdi, the show requires the EKI dancers -- including Takako Leen, Lilis, Kojack, Hendy Leonathan and Gede -- to work hard because of the different styles of dances.

Overall, the show, with Firman Ichsan and Iskandar K. Loedin as artistic directors, and Oni Krisnerwinto and his group Hyperzax providing the music, is entertaining.

Takako, as expected, delivers a stunning performance, but Lilis also deserves credit for her excellent acting as Ce Cien.

EKI dance company president director Aiko Senosoenoto said the show was scheduled to be staged in Singapore next year, with dialog in English. The group is also planning another Chinese- themed show, Dragon in Waiting: May Passion, Pride and Poison, for next year.

China Moon, however, is missing one thing, the fact that some Chinese-Indonesian say, "I'm not Chinese but I am a Chinese- Indonesian who wants to preserve Chinese traditions here". For these people, Chinese culture is their identity.

One such person, soothsayer The Eng Tjai, or Suhu Acai as he is better known, the head of the Lestari Kebudayaan Tionghoa Indonesia Foundation, works hard to revitalize Chinese culture in Indonesia.

He said efforts to revitalize Chinese culture here would help the ethnic Chinese enrich the country's culture. One of the foundation's programs is the planned construction of the Dragon Museum in West Java. The museum would be based along the same lines as Taman Mini in East Jakarta, showcasing traditional Chinese architecture and crafts.

The 3rd Urban Ritual China Moon; GoetheHaus; Jl. Sam Ratulangi No. 9-15, Central Jakarta; For further information tel. 021-23550208.