Dancers Learn Hindu Moves

Although fierce, the fight was graceful. Suradiwati fell victim to Srikandi and had to follow her around the palace for the rest of the war.

The fight between the two wom­en, part of the Hindu epic Ma­habharata, was depicted during an Indonesian dance performance Monday night at the Hotel Le Royal. The dancers included two Indonesians and 10 Cambo­dian students from the Royal Uni­versity of Fine Arts.

Three months ago, Diyah Lara­sati, an Indonesian dance teacher, began teaching the Cambodians as part of a teacher exchange program. Through slow, controlled movements, the dancers portrayed a variety of scenes and traditions. Each dance told a story that spoke of changes in human life, Diyah Larasati said.

The Beskalan, a dance from East Java performed by six danc­ers, used scarves to describe fe­male life; in the Jejer, from East Ja­va, women used small fans and be­came part of a harvest ritual.

Condong, a faster and more complex dance from Bali performed by Diyah Larasati, de­scribed King Rangkesari’s journey through the forest—a story told in the epic Legong Keraton. Heni Winahyuningsih, a guest dancer from Indonesia’s Institute of the Arts, became a young lady in Golekayun-Ayun, making herself up while waiting for her lover.

Diyah Larasati received a grant from the Asia Fellows Program and the Ford Foundation to teach here. She said she chose to study dance in Cambodia because she has always been interested in its political history, which is similar to Indonesia’s.

Using a scarf and a fan to create a story is common in Indonesian dance. But scarves are not often used in traditional Khmer dance, making Indonesian dance difficult for the Cambodian dancers, Di­yah Larasati said.

But that is of little concern to Diyah Larasati, who said she would rather that her students learn and experience Indonesian culture than master every precise move.

This, Diyah Larasati said, is exactly what she is doing as she studies Khmer dancing.


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