Indonesian choreographer and dancer Rianto dives deep into the history and culture of Sulawesi to uncover the diverse and complex approaches to gender that exist in the traditional cultural and dance forms of this island. Exploring the migration of gender, memory, and the body, Rianto collaborates with Garin Nugroho, one of Indonesia’s most prominent filmmakers today to create Hijrah documentary film portraits.
At the center of these film portraits is the figure of Dayeng Manda, a dance maestro who has notated his entire movement vocabulary in both male and female form into thousands of miniature woven dolls. In dialogue with Rianto, Dayeng Manda shares his connection to traditional vocabularies, their role in carrying our bodies towards the future and the interplay of gender against a backdrop of religious social politics.
Living between Tokyo and Indonesia, born and raised in the small Javanese village of Banyumas - the home of the Lengger cross gender dance - Rianto embodies as no-one else a space for the in-between, the coming together of traditional and contemporary culture, and of male and female. Hijrah is the continuation of his plea to value and give space for the in-between, to resist reducing the complexity of human beings and our society and culture into binary opposites. As always, he starts from his own body and biography to fight universally for more awareness around these pressing topics. In his work the personal becomes political.
In a world that consists of constant flux and movement, how much migration do we still allow in our own bodies? How much space do we allow ourselves to navigate between male and female? Could we embrace another way of looking at gender, as something which is not set, but rather fluid and alive?
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1981 Kaliori village, Banyumas, Rianto trained in classical Javanese dance and Central Javanese folk dance from a young age, specialising in the cross gender form of Lengger. Rianto has been based between Indonesia and Tokyo, Japan since 2003 where he founded the Classical Javanese dance company, Dewandaru Dance Company to introduce Javanese performing arts to Japan. He has worked with a spectrum of international choreographers, performance makers and companies whilst remaining dedicated to his training and own voice for contemporary Javanese performing arts.
ABOUT THE MODERATOR
Lionel Popkin makes choreographic scenarios that intertwine the multiplicity of inter-cultural dialogue with the imagery and iconography of the Indian subcontinent that surrounded his youth. His work has been presented at numerous venues, including Danspace Project, Abrons Arts Center, Dance Theater Workshop, The Getty Museum, REDCAT, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Stage, The Painted Bride, Philadelphia Dance Projects, ODC, The Place Theater (London) the Guangdong Modern Dance Festival (Guangzhou), and others. Lionel has performed as a dancer in the companies of Trisha Brown, Terry Creach, and Stephanie Skura. He has received grants from the National Performance Network’s Creation Fund, the National Dance Project Touring Subsidy, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Puffin Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Durfee Foundation. Lionel has been commissioned by San Diego’s Lower Left Performance Collective, the Li Chiao-Ping Dance Company, Carolyn Hall, and Nejla Yatkin. He is currently a Professor of Choreography in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. Popkin holds a BA with High Honors in Dance from Oberlin College and a MFA in Choreography from Bennington College in Dance. He is a certified teacher of Skinner Releasing Technique at the Introductory and Ongoing levels and a resident artist at the 18th Street Arts Center.
There is something deliciously knowing about the way Rianto melds the traditional and the contemporary. Ultimately Rianto opens up a space for us…. to delight in the erotics of hybridity transgression.