Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Jakarta arts festival makes its return

JAKARTA (JP): Local art enthusiasts will have the chance between Aug. 19 and Sept. 9 to see world class performing arts in an international festival they missed last year because of the economic and security crisis.

Local and foreign artists will present their best skills at the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta International Festival -- formerly called Jakarta International Performing Arts Festival.

Billed as this year's premier performing arts event, the festival anticipates success similar to previous festivals held every two years since 1990.

In the past, the festival lasted from one to four months; this year's festival will last for only two weeks.

"It's been three years since we staged the latest festival. We want it to resume. We have been 'sleeping' for three years. Now we're revitalized thanks, to the improving situation," the managing and artistic director of the festival, Farida Oetoyo, told The Jakarta Post.

Riots and economic crisis forced the cancellation of the festival last year.

She expressed optimism that the festival will repeat the previous success.

"We expect at least five local groups and five foreign groups to take part in the event," said Farida.

The number of groups participating in this year's festival is much lower than those of past events.

She was speaking after meeting with representatives from foreign cultural attaches and cultural foundations in Jakarta, including Ben Suzuki of the Japan Foundation, Gil Westaway of the British Council, G. Ericke Schongen of the Goethe Institute, Oscar Esparza of the Mexican embassy, Maria Lukaszuc of Poland embassy, Sun Jianhua of the Chinese embassy and Yego Velaso of the Chilean Embassy.

The four month festival of 1990 presented 31 groups from 14 countries and the second festival in 1992, that lasted for two months, featured 24 groups from 11 countries.

The third festival in 1994 featured 13 groups from eight countries, while the last festival in 1997 featured 31 groups from seven countries. Both those festivals lasted for one month.

"We see positive response (from invitees), and we still expect more (participants)," Farida said.

This year's festival promises not only quality performances, but also workshops, lecture-demonstrations, post-performance discussions, and exhibitions to encourage the concept that people of all nations can share their cultural and diverse heritage through art.

"Our mission is to promote international understanding by presenting a variety of entertaining performing arts events to encourage, sustain and educate audiences of all ages and interests," Farida said.

Since it was set up in 1987, Gedung Kesenian Jakarta has staged 934 performances of well-known local and foreign groups. Local groups included Teater Koma, Teater Ketjil, Sardono Dance Company and Sena Didi Mime, while foreign groups included Bremer Tanz Theater, CCP Ballet of the Philippines, Elisa Monte Dance Company, Katakhali Indian Theater, Kyogen Classical Comedy Theater, Tokyo Musical Ensemble, Trakia Folk Dance of Bulgaria, and Youn Duck Kyung Dance Company. (ste)