Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Matah Ati

Two years ago, a Javanese dance recital was performing in Singapore with success. Last year and again this year, they performed in Jakarta. Matah Ati is a real Cinderella love story between a prince and commoner in Java which was depicted using a Javanese langendriyan tradition mixed with modern style. Langendriyan combines sound, narration, movement and facial expression. Nowadays such style is not often being performed as the dancers are not only have to be capable of dancing, but also acting and singing in Javanese way. Most of the time when they dance they are crouching or putting their weight on their knees, which is very demanding physically.

Matah Ati was performed almost entirely in High Javanese with a pinch of Bahasa Indonesia and a dash of English without any translation, so I didnt always follow that the singing was about. It starts with Rubiyah, a girl from Matah singing about her dream of becoming a princess. This followed by happy villagers play and sing when the Prince, Raden Mas Said, and his entourage pass by and he falls in love upon seeing this girl.

Raden Mas Said then meditates but he was tempted by lovely beings but the prince ignores them until he sees this premonition of a girl. Later on the Prince leads the war against the Dutch with the helps of female soldiers and under the motto Ti Ji Ti Beh, Mati siji mati kabeh. One dies all dies. All for one, one for all.

One day, Raden Mas Said and his entourage pass by Matah village that has a wayang kulit show. There he sees Rubiyah sleeping and left his headband on her lap as he realises that she was the girl in his premonition. Rubiyah is ecstatic as she could be come a princess as she dreams of. Her village starts the preparation of her big day. First, she has to be tested by the prince's entourage of her fighting skills, then they named her the war commander and give her the nick name: Matah Ati. Afterward they all go to war which they won but with a lot of casualties. After the war Raden Mas Said marries Rubiyah and it was the start of Mangkunegaran Court in Central Java.

This 17 scenes performance was written, produced, directed and its costum was designed by Atilah Soejadjaya of Mangkunegaran House with the help of Kay Subiyakto as the Artistic Director.

Sadly other than the support of mangkunegaran House, among which they lent their 10 kg worth of gold in jewelry that were worn by the two protagonists, the production didnt received much help from the Indonesian government.

On the lighter note: I think Jay was influenced by Dr. Who as you can see on the left side of the picture. Dalek rules. Pictures at

Monday, July 02, 2012

Across the Universe

By chance I watched most part of Across the Universe on telly. A musical set in the 60s, with cutting edge visual technique and the Beatles songbook. The movie was beautifully executed, after all the director was Julie Taymor, who gave us the Broadway musical Lion King. Taymor has this way of knitting the dialogues and the songs in such way that the transition between them are smooth all through out the movie.

The arrangements are sometimes familiar, but sometime altered in a way that you found another mood in the songs that you had never knew before. Who would've thought of setting The Beatles songs against Vietnam war? Of course the story became a romance in the middle of an anti-war movement after one of the characters went to Nam.

The main characters' name are from the Beatles songs, Lucy, an American girl who just moved to New York and Jude, a Liverpudlian who works his way to the USA. I'm surprised I've never heard of this movie before. Now I should pay more attention when they are going to screen it again so I can watch it again, and again.