A new exchange platform for artists, known as the Jejak-旅 Tabi Exchange, will be taking place in Kuala Lumpur this month from the 20th to 23rd of September at the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA) and then again from the 25th to 30th of September at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC).
If you’re curious, the phrase ‘Jejak-旅 Tabi’ was derived from two groups of Asian languages. ‘Jejak’ means ‘to step’ in Malay and ‘footstep’ in Indonesian. The Chinese character ‘旅’, pronounced ‘tabi’ in Japanese or ‘lü’ in Mandarin, then means ‘to travel’.
What differentiates this platform from the many others is that the platform comes in the form of a travelling festival, which is set to take place in two Asian cities annually for the next three years. Kuala Lumpur will be home to the second edition of the Jejak-旅 Tabi Exchange, with the first having taken place in Yogyakarta this year from the 13th to 27th of July.
The festival is funded by the Japan Foundation Asia Center and Tokyo Arts Council and aims to serve as an intimate space for contemporary Asian artists to present their works and interact with their audiences. With the exchange, audiences will form a much deeper connection with their favourite artists by being able to delve deeper into the understanding of a piece’s process, context and history.
Jejak-旅 Tabi at ASWARA
From the 20th to 23rd of September, ASWARA will be home to an exclusive lineup of performances, workshops, showcases and panel discussions.
On the 20th of September, there will be two ‘lecture performances’, followed also by a post-show Q&A session.
The first will be performed by the Floating Bottle Project, which consists of Natsuko Tezuka, Venuri Perera and Yeong Ran Suh, three critically acclaimed dance artists who will aim to question and explore the concept of modernity through an artistic showcase. They will investigate boundaries set up by westernisation and modernisation, looking at both national borders and individual spaces.
There will also be Maharajawana, which will be a music performance by composer Teuku Umar Ilany, who will present his insight on the composition of the story of Maharawana, widely-popularised by shadow puppetry performances like wayang kulit. His work will attempt to conceptualise narrative music composition through use of the gamelan, with musical ideas absorbed from the traditional Makyung.
Then on the 21st, there will be a lecture by curator Linda Mayasari, who will highlight the findings in her research on Yogyakartan dance history, and performance-maker Mark Teh, who will map out his performance-making trajectories through national and communal perspectives.
The 22nd of September will then witness several line-ups, each featuring highly celebrated artists in the field. There will be a roundtable discussion titled ‘Tangent Practices of Articulating The Artistic’, which will feature a group of Asian dance and theatre practitioners sharing insight into their artistic processes and performance-making journeys,
Then, a series of Malaysian and Indonesian plays will be showcased. These will be Kawan Tidur by Hanna Fransisca, Kurator Dapur by Ridhwan Saidi, Sepanjang Hayat by Fa Abdul Karim and Matthew Koh and Kenapa Tak Tukar Nama? by Syafiq Syazim and Yiky Chew. What all these plays have in common is that they are all performances where the text and dialogue serve as its most essential element. These plays will also underline the similarities between both Malaysian and Indonesian societies as seen through the lens of new generation playwrights.
On the 23rd of September, be sure to look out for La Danse Macabre, a workshop performance by Indonesian artists Natasha G. Tontey and Gusbang Sada, which will showcase through their work themes of death, ritual, tradition and contemporary social norms.
This will be followed by TubuhDANG TubuhDUT, a presentation by dancer Ayu P. Sari, who will attempt to reclaim the female Dangdut body dominated by the male gaze in ‘goyang dangdut’. Local theatre director Naque Ariffin will then present theatrical workshop performance, Merespon Trauma, which deals with the tale of an actor’s traumatic experiences.
There will also be a panel presentation on the topic of curating and programming festivals. The panel will be led by regional producers, curators and programmers who will all share their experiences with the complexities and inner workings of art curation and programming. They will also speak on the urgency of regional platforms and festivals that focus on local contemporary arts practices and how each of them connect their respective practices historically, culturally, aesthetically and socio-politically to the wider region of Asia.
Admission to all events in ASWARA will be free except for the final performances of La Danse Macabre, TubuhDANG TubuhDUT and Merespon Trauma, which allows entry via donation.
Jejak-旅 Tabi at DPAC
Jejak-旅 Tabi will take place at DPAC from the 25th to 30th of September, with events led by critically acclaimed choreographers Padmini Chettur (Chennai) and Pichet Klunchun (Bangkok). Respected internationally, Padmini and Pichet are renowned for their internationally-commissioned works which have appeared in several European festival circuits and Asian cities.
On the 25th and 26th of September, dance masterclasses will be conducted by both Padmini and Pichet. Admission to these classes will be priced at RM150 for adults and RM120 for Dcard members.
Then on the 28th and 29th, look forward to a riveting double-bill performance of Varnam-edit by Padmini and I Am A Demon by Pichet, who will both be performing for the very first time in Malaysia. In both these performances, Padmini and Pichet will present works that explore slippages between tradition and modernity, challenging the conventional to propose new ways of presenting the contemporary performing body.
Padmini challenges, and inevitably reframes, the traditional systems of the Indian dance Bharatanatyam while Pichet pays tribute to the classical Thai performance of Khon in a contemporary interpretation. Tickets to these shows will be priced at RM68 for adults, RM68 for Dcard holders and RM50 for students.
The 30th will then see two sessions with Pichet and Padmini, where the two performers will share their public artistic journeys in the contemporary dance realms, relating to their classical training experiences. Admission to the sessions is free for all.
The Jejak-旅 Tabi Exchange will take place from the 20th to 23rd of September at the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA) and then from the 25th to 30th of September at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC). For more information, check out their website.
Featured Image Source: Jejak-旅 Tabi Exchange