Introduction to Indonesian Dance at the Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School
At the Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School (BRAMS) in New Haven, CT, students in grades 5-8 receive a premiere arts education in music, dance, theater, and the visual arts. To expand their world-class curriculum, BRAMS recently invited the International Silat Federation of America and Indonesia to introduce the vibrant cultural arts of Indonesian to the BRAMS 8th grade class.
On Day 1, the multimedia presentation included not only a brief introduction to the geography and wide variety of cultures and people of Indonesia, but also a presentation ‘Dancing-Around Indonesia,’ with glimpses into the wide variety of dances found on different parts of the largest archipelago in the world. Cultures visited in the presentation included the Acehnese on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, the Dayak of Kalimantan, the Tana Toraja people of South Sulawesi, the Balinese culture, the Betawi people of Jakarta, and the Minangkabau culture of West Sumatra.
The students loved seeing the diverse array of colors, and the representations of cultural unity, daily food-gathering and festive motions, and birds and other wildlife, all within in the dance movements. They even tasted some ginger candies from the “Spice Islands”…
On Days 2 and 3 of the presentations, the students and their teachers participated in a workshop, learning some basic movements of Traditional Indonesian Dance from the Minangkabau culture of West Sumatra, Indonesia. The students stepped, practiced breathing exercises, basic hand movements, and incorporated the use of plates into their movements. The students especially enjoyed trying the unique movements of Tari Piring, balancing plates as they stepped across the stage, mimicking movements to celebrate the harvesting of rice.
The students excelled in the movements, and were very enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity. The ISFA would like to extend special thanks to the BRAMS Administration and dance teachers both for their invitation and for their support and enthusiasm in ensuring a successful workshop.
With many thanks to the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in New York for providing gifts for the students and additional cultural materials for display and distribution.