Darkness. Dull rumble, vibratory tremors. Then a thin, human sound, like wailing. Then silence. A soft light. It’s dawn after a night of noise and confusion. We hear the calling of birds. Eko Supriyanto stands motionless on a raised platform. Beneath him is the machine, hidden from the audience by a short black curtain which skirts the platform.
Supriyanto is known in Indonesia for his mastery of classical Javanese court dance and for his many international contemporary dance successes. Indeed, according to the program for Solid States, he joined Madonna for the Drowned World tour in 2001. Here, he wears a kind of traditional Javanese cap which I think is called a blangkon; he has also a loose-fitting mesh singlet and light blue jeans with a floral strip.
He remains motionless, staring intently. His left leg slowly turns out and extends. So very slowly. The extension in particular seems to take an age. This is an exaggeration and a comment on the Javanese court style: slow, precise and graceful. He shapes elegant forms and stylised gestures to an atmospheric soundscape of dribbling beats and electronic scrapings. We notice the fingers, the shapes, distinctly South East Asian, the Hindu-Buddhist legacy. Our appreciation has a touristic aspect; but there’s also a partially exposed personal drama at play. Eko was first introduced to court dancing by his grandfather, also a dancer, and the problem of negotiating old and new, of connecting the new with the old, has an important family dimension. Continue reading “Arco Renz: Solid States”