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Aswara Dance Faculty lecturers, (from left) Faillul, Norsafini and Murni, plan to put on an exciting show for dance lovers via the site-specific production, Jamu 2019. (Pic by Subhadra Devan)
Aswara Dance Faculty lecturers, (from left) Faillul, Norsafini and Murni, plan to put on an exciting show for dance lovers via the site-specific production, Jamu 2019. (Pic by Subhadra Devan)

FROM corridors to gazebos (pondok wakaf) and staircases, dance is set to take over the campus of National Academy of Cultural & Heritage (Aswara) for its annual showcase of works under Jamu 2019.

It's that time when the Dance Faculty lecturers offer their creative works to the public and all eight dances will be site-specific for the first time. A milestone marker for Aswara's 25th anniversary.

Mostly performed by 30 dance students, the choreography is a mixed bill of contemporary with traditional elements.

Says Jamu 2019 artistic director Norsafini Jafar: "Doing choreography is challenging work because we must think of all the details - from lighting and sound to movements. "

She looks for encouragement from her fellow choreographers-lecturers, Faillul Adam and Murni Omar.

"It's a different state of mind to be a choreographer, adds Faillul Adam, 32. "It calls for leadership qualities, to handle the bigger picture."

Murni Omar, 32, feels it is also a natural progression from dancer to choreographer.

The other choreographers-lecturers for Jamu 2019 are Seth Hamzah, classical Indian dancers Norbaizura Abdul Ghani and Ng Xinying, Imran Syafiq, and Yunus Ismail.

"This year's Jamu is exciting, and Seth is feeling it the most! Actually, we did offer some site-specific work for Jamu 2010, under Dr Joseph Gonzales," says Faillul, "but this is the first time all the dances will be out of the theatre hall."

"It's a decision we all made," adds Norsafini.

"The themes, movements, ideas, and choreography have to be intrinsically linked to the site. The piece created will not work in a studio or on a conventional stage."

"The audience will be invited to move from 'site to site' to watch each work," she says.

An expert in the royal East Coast tradition of joget gamelan, Norsafini explains that her piece, called Libang Limu, will feature action painting.

"The dancers will paint on a large canvas. While this action usually involves lots of improvisation, but I have sought to build set movements to the piece. Yes, it's a tough one," the 36-year-old says with a laugh.

Faillul, the street breakdancer turned contemporary performer, says his piece, Palis Palis, centres on a belief among the Bajau when they want to avoid any bad luck or bad things happening to them.

"It's like we say 'touch wood'. I have chosen a site that makes me feel a little scared! It also resembles an istana, and that could have influenced me to use a sampling of the William Tell Overture.

"I find doing site-spcific work needs more imagination. Lighting can be a problem," he says.

Murni if offering a piece called Tentang, which explores memories when going through a particular space.

"I am using a corridor that connects a motorcycle parking space to the wakaf. It's the line of thought that I hope to explore."

Unlike the others, Murni has one main dancer, Muhammad Aiman Yusuf.

Norbaizura is offering One 2 Jaga Jaga, which is about bullying. She has chosen a site that's quite hidden, and hopes the three-dancer piece will raise an awareness about the issue.

Yunus is exploring sound in his piece, Gloomy Bloomy, and uses words from a folk song such as Suriram in his piece.

Seth's work called, Sepi, is about loneliness, revolving around a man ditching a woman. He will use the trees and greenery of the site, near the campus entrance, as a juxtaposition to the emotion of the dance.

"We may be known for Malay traditional dances, and we are also moving forward in other dance genres.

"Dance has infinite possibilities."

This 25th anniversary Jamu 2019 may well prove to be an eye-opener!

JAMU 2019 - Site-Specific Performances

When: Dec 21-22, 3pm to 6pm

Where: Aswara Campus, 464, Jalan Tun Ismail, KL

Free entrance.

*Please be at Orchestra Hall Square for the 1st check point. In case of rain, items will be provided.

Visit www.facebook.com/fakultitariaswara

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