“I am scared of what is happening here.
Please, I am begging you, take my daughter away and keep her safe!
If I survive I will serve you my whole life..."
Presented by Wan-Chao Dance, Gadung Kasturi Balinese Dance and Music, HEI GU Chinese Percussion Ensemble, and Midiyanto, Keep Her Safe, Please! Jakarta 1998 is a new work of dance and music drawing on Chinese and Indonesian traditions inspired by the history of ethnic tensions in Indonesia, as well as its creators’ own experiences as immigrants. It opens with a sung poem, describing the moonlight, that begins the first scene in traditional Javanese shadow theater.
Incorporating dance movements from Java, Bali, and China, the choreographers place these traditions in a new context in which there is interaction and conflict. Helplessness, guilt, apathy, anger, frustration, and confusion are some of the emotions revealed. As they struggle and search for a place of belonging, the people attempt to ultimately coexist in their new and unfamiliar situation. They may find they are not alone and that they are retracing the steps of their ancestors. Perhaps knowing this is enough to give them hope and find peace within themselves. This is reiterated with the chant at the end: Mugi rahayu! (“May there be peace!”)
"Where can my homeland be? Where can I root?
It seems that no matter where I was born, raised, lived, I will be always an outsider just because some part of me is different, but aren’t we all different somehow anyway?
And how can we build the place where we live TOGETHER for a better life?
Seeking... the land where I can build a home, the heritage I can carry with me and go beyond."
-- Wan-Chao Chang
Lead artist Wan-Chao Chang’s parents left Indonesia for Taiwan in the 1960s to escape political upheaval and increasing anti-Chinese sentiment. In 1998 a new wave of political turmoil swept Indonesia, and Chinese residents were once again targeted. Women especially were victimized, and were raped and killed in untold numbers. Friends in Jakarta, concerned about their own daughters during the anti-Chinese riots of 1998, begged Chang’s parents in phone calls to help their daughters escape, to “keep her safe, please.”
“I’ve experienced my culture and traditions being impacted by immigration: the process of assimilation of foreign culture into my tradition – this is an ongoing dilemma in Bali since early last century and throughout my life.”
--Kompiang Metri Davies
Collaborators Midiyanto and Kompiang Metri Davies immigrated to America from their native Indonesia. They share Wan-Chao’s perspective of the outsider, but have also felt the impact of immigration on their native country. This is echoed in the performance through Midiyanto’s poem:
Aku... Aku dan Tempat Me... Me and Place
Di manakah kau Tempat? Where are you, Place?
Mencarilah aku kepadamu atau sebaliknya? Do I look for you, or you for me?
Kalau memang kita harus menyatu, If we were meant to be one,
Mengapa kau tak mengenalku? Why don’t you recognize me?
Bukankah kita ini Satu? Aren’t we One?
The project is developed from Chang's previous work "Keep Her Safe, Please!" (2009 ), combining traditional Javanese, Sumatran, Balinese, and Chinese dance movements and performed by the Wan-Chao Dance company members. More info & video excerpts for the preliminary work can be reviewed at wanchaodance.com.