Mon, 27 Aug 2001

Strange Fruit kicks off Art Summit

JAKARTA (JP): If you happen to be passing by Plaza Senayan this Monday afternoon, you may see some weird, strikingly colored objects floating in the air.

They are not birds, planes, or even Superman, but rather eight performers from the Australian group Strange Fruit. And they are not actually flying. Instead, they are standing on four-meter black-painted elastic fiberglass poles.

The poles have three feet plus straps, and two pedals a couple of inches from the top.

Everyone is welcome to view the free show by the Melbourne- based outdoor performance troupe outside the plaza.

On Monday at 4 p.m., the troupe will kick off the Third Art Summit Indonesia 2001 International Festival on Contemporary Performing Arts, which will be officially opened by State Minister of Tourism and Culture I Gede Ardika. The ceremony will be aired live by state television TVRI starting at 4:30 p.m.

The next day, at the same venue at 5 p.m., those who missed the show can still catch three numbers by the group: The Field, Flight and Swoon.

Clad in shocking pink and bright orange long dresses with matching wigs for the women, and black suits and hats for the men, two dancing couples showed up at the final rehearsal on Sunday afternoon, giving a 10-minute excerpt from their numbers.

With their faces powdered white with some rouge, just like pantomime artists, they skillfully and quickly climbed the poles and attached the straps to their thighs.

With music from Puccini, Bach and jazzy tunes from Fats Weller in the background, the dancers then swung beautifully to the right and left before spinning around, just like regular dancers, their hands and upper torsos freely moving in time to the tunes.

The show here will be the first for the group, comprising Grant Mouldey, Sian Francis, Scott McBurnie, Kathryn Jamieson, Darren Carmichael, Trudy Radburn, Che Makinson, and Patrick Cerini.

Set up seven years ago, the members, who are between 20 and 38 years of age, come from different backgrounds. Some of them are dancers, while others have experience in theater and the circus.

The troupe's unique name came from the idea that human beings are similar to fruits. "But 'Strange' stands for the strange accent Australians have," the group's manager Jilly Judaes said, laughing.

As for poles, Carmichael said they picked on the idea because no one else was doing it. Besides, it made it possible for everyone to see their show.

At first, according to Francis, it was scary with the ever present fear of falling down. "But it's like riding a bike, once your body is familiar with it, then there's no problem," she said, adding that they had never had an accident during a performance.

The troupe's show was referred to by Mouley as physical theater. "It's not different from other theater. It also has spiritual meaning in a way," he said.

As for the numbers being performed at the Art Summit, the group said that they were about expressing freedom, love, loneliness, comedy and happiness. "The Field is about love, finding people to love...." (hdn)