[SINGAPORE ~ AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE]
Space Theatre, Sat 24 Sep.
An interesting mix of dance and doco, the SoftMachine: Rianto is an exploration of many things – tradition, modernity and how both engender the masculine and the feminine within the dance. Indonesian dancer Rianto begins his performance as a masked (Topeng style) Princess Kirana, yearning for her lover to return to her. Dressed in layers of sarongs and other bedazzlements, Rianto’s delicate, exquisite movements absolutely embodied the femininity of the traditional erotic dance known as Lengger.
From this point, Rianto started the process of shedding layers of the sarong, occasionally stopping to feed the audience snippets of his life, his dance, his thoughts. The doco film of Rianto at home and on various stages provide the chance for the audience to connect the man and his dance. When he returns to centre stage, Rianto has divested himself of makeup and jewels to portray Prince Panji, a masculine role requiring vigour and strength, again performed with complete command of body and form.
As the narrative requires, the gradual shedding of layers leaves him finally onstage completely naked, cleverly placed lighting sculpting Rianto’s form as he performs the final dance as neither male or female, masculine or feminine, traditional or contemporary – a performance that was as spellbinding as it was beautiful.
Choy Ka Fai has directed a thought-provoking piece that is actually one part of a series of SoftMachine performances that explore notions of contemporary Asian art within the context of their own societies. The Q&A at the end of the show is well worth staying around for too!
Rosie van Heerde
SoftMachine: Rianto continues at Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 4pm on Sun 25 Sep.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au or ozasiafestival.com.au. Click HERE to view the teaser and purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Law Kian Yan