Sat, 05 Jul 2003

Miroto's Banjarmili studio blends with serene nature

Suherdjoko, Contributor, Yogyakarta

A piece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is in the air, while inside a dance studio four dancers move beautifully, performing contemporary dance movements under the guidance of noted choreographer and dancer Martinus Miroto.

From a distance, the sound of water dropping from a traditional bamboo-made waterspout was heard, creating a serene atmosphere.

The studio, owned by Miroto, is located in a remote village of Turusan, Banyuraden, in Sleman, on the outskirts of Yogyakarta.

Creating dances, for a choreographer like Miroto, is a routine, but he needs a studio with particular conditions to boost his creativity. "My studio must be far from noises and uproars. I need to muse myself in a serene place and become one with nature," said Miroto.

For the studio, he chose a plot of land measuring some 2,000 square meters on the Bedog riverbank. He later named the studio Banjarmili to describe both its physical and spiritual meaning. The word banjar in Javanese means a place, while mili means flowing. It also has a literal meaning as it is situated on a riverbank, and the presence of the studio hopefully will make creativity flow like water from the river.

"I've been wanting to have this studio for a quite a long time but could only make it come true in 2001," said Miroto, who spent some Rp 200 million so far to set up the studio.

The first opportunity to realize his long dream came in 1994 when he could afford to buy the land, which is located in the same village where he was brought up.

"At that time, I didn't have the idea about when I could start building the studio. But I was determined to do so," said Miroto.

It turned out that he could build the studio the following year, after the success of his world dance tour Penumbra and Incarnation in 1995. It was with the money he saved from the tour he that started constructing the studio step by step and completed the main building in 2001.

The architecture of Banjarmili studio was jointly created by Miroto and local noted architect Eko Prawoto. In this case, Miroto came up with the idea and Eko translated it into a spacious building on Bedog riverbank.

The main stage is located in the main building dominated by Javanese architecture with some four-meter high pillars made of aged coconut trunks. It has a 12 by 12 meter stage blanketed with black carpet where Miroto and his pupils conduct dancing exercises every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evening.

Adopting the Roman stage style, spectators at the studio can watch the dance at the center-stage below with the flowing river as a backdrop. The river, however, is visible only when the screen at the back of the studio is opened.

"To preserve the original landscape on the other side of the river, I bought the land, just in case an owner wanted to build a house there," Miroto said.

In fact, Miroto has also turned the other side of the riverbank in one of the studio's open stages with nature as its scenery.

On the eastern side of the river, Miroto also built three open stages outside the main building, giving more room for a choreographers to develop their imaginations.

A collaborative work by Miroto and Singaporean choreographer Angela Liong last year used both the inside and outside stages, including the one built on the west side of the river where some traditional bamboo-made waterspouts are located and used by locals who bathe there each day.

The studio has become a kind of landmark and pride of the village. Built in a pyramid style, with a soaring roof equipped with a kitchen, dressing room, toilets, living rooms, sound system room, lighting system, dance props room and a Javanese gamelan orchestra set, the studio is self-sufficient.

"But there are still much to be done for it to completely conform to my ideas. For example, I need a space that functions like a laboratory. But I'll do it in good time ... at my own pace."