Advocating for an All Inclusive Dance Action for everyone

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Summer in Copenhagen with MovingCollaboratorium: Un-Cut09 and Site-Specific Project with Jay Pather

Pictures by Torben Huss, Blind Spot, Metropolis Biennale, Kobenhavn International Theatre, Aug 2009

Above - Aida Redza in Blind Spot. A work with Jay Pather and the company in Copenhagen: Witness a fusion of ritual with real life and the majestic with the minimal in a staged dance pilgrimage from the outer Nørrebro to the sanctuary of the inner city.

eleven dancers from different cultures map the psychological and emotional meeting ground amongst diverse individuals caught in personal moments. Five especially made performances take place at sites along Nørrebrogade, all the way to the centre of the city.

Please visit to read interview of Jay Pather.

Below a one week moving collaboratorium with 3 wonderful artist friend Rosa Isaldur, Anamet Magven and Raymond Roa for the UnCut Malaysia Arts Festival produced by Jambatan - Copenhagen (the first Malaysian artist network in DK).Along with us , in the process is our two malaysian artists amir zainorin and fathul.

Malaysia UnCut Festival, Copenhagen August 2009

My experience in collaborative work;
In my opinion, a collaborative process in the organizing, managing and executing of a project/program, is easier said than done. Most commonly a collaborative work in an artistic environment for example, especially in the ones that I have been involved with so far directed by others, is still very much dictated by the pyramid function where the collective artists are working towards a theme, that is suggested and directed by the Artistic Director, or the initiator of the project. The collective artists shares ideas, explore in a studio base type work, or on the ground or site with direct contact and hands on interaction/contact improv, among each other in developing conceptual ideas, narratives and the kinetic movement form of the theme given.

With the Artistic Director inspiring the collaborators, they select and string this collective ideas together to serve a larger structure. This can be executed quite smoothly and easy without hiccups when the collaborative group work is actually supported with the possibility of spending very much time not only working but actually 'living' if you can say it that way,.. on an expedition together. Sharing not only choreographic knowledge and ideas, but actually learning emotionally, spiritually and culturally the differences and similarities of each others ethos, philosophy and way of living of the other by literally going on a physical expedition together.

In a collaborative process where a group of independent artists who are very new to each other (especially in the kind of collaboratorium that i am interested in), artists who come together to identify and recognize new possibilities, set new challenges, methodology without clear definition and understanding of leadership and role and responsibility,from each artists own cultural frame and background, may actually stir the collaborative process into a state of chaos, where misunderstandings and conflicts, would arise. Rather than being empowered, some individuals may opt to play a non-active role. As there are blind or grey areas where the gaps of understanding of our cultural, personal and social differences, group dynamics is misinterpreted and judged with little tolerance and sensitivity towards the other. And this can happen at all levels of discussion and communication in an individual or group relationship of a collaborative work, even how open and tolerant we think we are. Just establishing a common vision, and questions to inspire more thoughts and take of the vision among a group of new collaborators ... definitely will create collisions, and we should always be prepared to encounter this problematic areas and find the best and timely action to establish solutions to continue moving forward rather than being caught in trying to resolve and attempting to create a functional system or work strategy of a perfect collaboration. Because there isn't a one way to a perfect collaboration. Its always a trial and error, and about feeling and sensing each other on ground level.

And that is why a collaborative process in creating a project/program - starting with a whole new set of collective artists, to share a common vision could be a failure if communication, practice and sharing does not go beyond studio work, and only rely on discussion and debate. Even though i am stressing that collaborations must be conducted on the systems of physical motion and creative action and exchange, a complete collaboration must be inspired by a central key figure who must be open and willing to share the collaborative process rather than dictate its direction. And definitely a deeper bonding among the collaborators is highly encouraged. I do not believe in just coming together to discuss a collaboration, and leave when the 9 - 5 clock-in time is over. A collaboration must or try to be as tight and involved as a whole journey like a pilgrimage together. Too difficult in this modern times isn't it? When every individual has their own daily agenda's, family commitment, full time jobs ..... so on and so forth.

Moving on, although I have always been keen to work with dance artists and performers from different cultures and background but actually this days am preferring to be inspired by collaborative work with artists from different interdisciplinary mediums. I find that it makes the work deeper with multiple layers of meaning, context and juxtaposing design in performance states and visual input. And providing many angles and entry point into the subject that is questioned when making cross culture collaboration such as power, identity, territory, differences, displacement, hope and memory. As the subject naturally hits the collaborators face on with issues they may encounter and confront when working towards establishing one plural artistic agreement among so many.

I am also preferring site-specific work as it is not only challenging, especially when the sites are not ours. Meaning we are not familiar to the area, the history - story of the site, the temperament of the people living, occupying, residing the site etc. But mainly challenges us the collaborators to identify our status in relation to the environment and the people of the area. For example, are we the immigrants - or the foreigners, or are we representing the people and the stories of the site. The whole devise process where the dramaturgy of the choreography has to be researched in relation to the background of the space and symbolic significance of the site. I prefer that the site-specific work goes beyond using the site for its architectural design and landscape, but also includes us performers/collaborators working with the daily happenings of that surrounding to discover a kind of chance happening event or situations created from researching the daily ritual, rhythm, repetition of living, working - story of the people -(for example) and that can further contribute to our search to highlight the subject of identity, or to question the sense of belonging of the community, or to bring out/highlight the idea of displacement of the culture of the site.

I am today dealing in my daily day and life on issues of immigration - trying to be both a Malaysian - mother role model and citizen, and at the same time shaping myself to be a responsible and a correct foreign resident in Copenhagen - who is nonetheless still seen as a 'Thai' immigrant who latches on like a parasite on her Danish husband as means to receive social rights and privileges that is offered to the euro-Danes. It is so awful, but that is how they perceive the asian other. I am learning ways to raise my son, marjaan so that he will not have to face an identity crisis of being born Danish Malaysian - and yet one day may find himself not belonging at all to either one. More about Displacement - my experiences and struggles in Syariah Courts, displacement when my husband has to attend a muslim syukor ceremony of his son - where he meets the whole community of muslim folk from the mosque, and is taught how to sedekah into the pockets of the praying men. A stranger among the crowd and such a cultural shock for him, but he learns to adapt and accept this new situations whole heartedly. The memory we leave when we move on, as footprints, or good and bad memory that lingers as we reminisce how much we long for the life we cannot have or wish to have, or even regret for the decisions we have made. My observation and experiences are not just about myself but of people ... including friends and family who have in their little corners of their world, subjected to different issues of immigration, identity, displacement, and the need to wipe out memory or make new ones. Those who seek asylum, those who find illegal ways of crossing borders, those who have to move from home to be able to have sex change and live an open new life, those who wish to convert and announce themselves no longer Islam,.... and more. I gaze and observe into their lives and all others who are busy moving and adapting from one home to another,... sheltering temporarily or on the run.

These issues are so present in our lives today. We are all in a state of transit in some ways or another,.... in dealing with travel, in marriage, in child raising, in job searching and survival, in finding peace and new home. And how open are we in accepting others, in learning and understanding others who face or experience this similar stories, who are different from us. How do we respond, or even confront these happenings. Where do we begin as artists to express them, especially in a non-verbal way. Is it just by a touch of a hand, a gesture of the eye, a narrative statement. How could we as collaborators be a voice to express the changes, the situations, the integration and disintegration, satisfaction and dissatisfaction of people and the living - if we ourselves cannot understand the background from where each of us come from and where others come from. I wish to explore how we could work towards zooming in into specifics to express this thoughts by sharing our body intelligence and intuition collaboratively. As we all know only talk can cause a lot of petty arguments and quarrels as each one of us have our own individual mind, opinion and perception when we begin to even speak. It will take us nowhere, if we forget to learn how to share in the most basic way. Sensing, Moving and non-verbal communication living together - and making mind, spirit and senses accessible to all and the other.

Collaborations excite me, cause it makes us see and experience, understand and appreciate .... to have tolerance and respect for the other and their choices. And in this regards, not just a collaboration where other artistic mediums serve the dance. But where all mediums are sharing importance in designing and structuring the skeleton of a work.I believe that we all in some way or another need to incorporate or reflect on the device process of a typical artistic collaboration, in our daily life ... and not just leave it for the artists or corporate sectors to use it for their artistic or monopolizing intentions. Especially this days when there are so much problems arising. Now as I am writing and adding additional notes, currently today, in Jan 2010 - what with the burning of the churches over the disagreement of one name. It is so strange as we are all human, made from the same earth, living and cohabiting on the same line and borders of existence. I propose that the National Consultative Council on Religious Harmony in Malaysia should execute programs or meets among all institutions or centers of faith to implement physical contact and collaborative exercise or camps among themselves and later to include their followers... as a pioneer to confront this problem of misunderstanding and narrow- mindedness. Not just confront the issue with endless debate and discussions. Move each other, touch ... and feel is another alternative approach to trigger sharing. Possibly this could break down the walls we are creating that separates us from the other in the name of God. It is not just about choreographic intention of a collaboration, but the principle and process of collective, non verbal collaboration which will enable us to understand, learn and appreciate each other better.

My personal input, in general into a collaborative work has always include or deal with issues on taboo, and censorship, and violation that is done against a freedom of expression and will. This is expressed by experimenting or bringing in objects or the use of props - to provoke or evoke the different state of senses - sense of smell, and touch for example. I try to include my skills in working with symbolic and metaphoric use of objects/props as a method to share with others. I lspend more time in creating a group work collaboratively by conducting an open exercise- half an hour of non talking, body to body breathing and weight sharing in a group, as its always a challenging feat be it if you are the composer, the visual artist,....everyone gets on the floor together.

Today I prefer this instead of making my individual work - which i have been busy with for the past few years. But of course it is not a 'cannot do'. I have been doing mostly solo works since 2002 and i am too comfortable performing solo and prefer retreating into my comfort zone - or safe space - which is into myself and into my own cultural body. I am sure every one does prefer this too. But if we can push and drive the individual work into an arena where we are not comfortable, and having to deal with this discomfort like for example - to take us out of our comfort zone and out into meeting people of different needs, age or social status. For example limiting us or restricting us from going back into the 'dance' form that we have learned over the years. Or back into 'my own' rebellious dramatics type of responses to the outside environment. It would be a good way as an exercise for collaborators to experience together this moment of sitting still and studying, and learning of people,.. becoming the observer, learning, listening and allowing people, space and time to shape and move us, rather than we always dictating our energy to shape the other in their spaces. That could be an area where I would like as a collaborator to move towards. Not to be rushed by time or by the expectations of others due to the need to create something or to successfully arrive with a result. But instead to take ownership to our right and freedom of choice and opinion and to allow ourselves to be heard and not hidden, yet tolerant enough to accept that sometimes agreeing to disagree is no harm. But stop and put an end when ego, pride and prejudices arises and when we begin to react or to create respond aggressively and childishly. If we can attempt this through art ..... why are we unable to instill this in reality - in the community?

I hope my discussions above are relevant, and shared some light for readers a brief view on my perception and working style in a collaborative environment especially on the vision i had while making the two moving collaboration work that i was involved in over the summer in copenhagen. May be it did not entirely turn out the way i wanted it to be, but then again, it was and always be a learning process of trial and error. Now, if only politicians and those sitting on the highest seat of the pyramid and organization work chart could reflect on 'the physical process of collaborations' and use our methods of 'viewing and learning from the other side',... it could in a longer run be the best approach to create the 1 Malaysia that we really wish for. Where there are No differences and all beings are equal in this one land. Sharing...... is the keyword in my opinion, for a good collaboration. and this i believe is the exact keyword necessary for a harmonious and happy living.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Emphasise positive personal change

Kisi, a choreography by Kent Tan. At Suara Gerak, produced by Ombak-Ombak Arts Studio, facilitated by Aida Redza. Oct 2009

Hui-ern Ng at Suara Gerak - A Choreographer's Workshop. Choreography by Kat Chua. Produced by Ombak-Ombak Arts Studio and facilitated by Aida Redza. Oct 2009
Pictures by Lim Chuin Nian.

at Suara Gerak someone said '.... the feeling is so negative. Why does everyone like to create such negative energy in dance. why suffering, and self inflicting pain, death?' after watching works by Kat and Kent at Suara Gerak, A Choreographer's Workshop Series 1 held at Panggung Sasaran, USM Penang. I too noticed that my two young students, Nat and Ash looked afraid as though they had just watched a horror movie. '.... do you like the dance? Or do you understand? Would you like to be in it?' I asked. They replied '! it looks scary, and we don't understand', almost immediately.

All I have to say is that in a world that tends to chaos, in a state of not knowing and full of uncertainties, it often seems that the only right way to improve and find peace is to make things orderly. However when there is too much order, that could create more problems. So to establish this balance between order and chaos to find peace, harmony and transcendence,... we must confront this two polar of opposites before we attain balance. A balance between Dark and light, negative and positive, soft and hard, male and female, order and chaos. Before we need to find order, we have to experience chaos, and before chaos there is order. Just as Muhammad prescribes, young before old, rich before poor. The best part of our lifetime is when we allow ourselves to find the joy of experiencing the in between.

So my best advice to the two choreographers in Suara Gerak, is that now their works have strongly express their darkness and disorder. Grasping for light, the choreography seek for some order and the light ahead of them. Their next journey into their choreography is to identify this light that they themselves can visualize and be their own creators, which beckons new complications, and yet this clash and the struggle between chaos in order and order in chaos, can they meet the resolution by embodying the calmness and transcendence of evoking the in between. And not remaining in the extreme ends.
While we are on this subject, I would like to share this article and my agreement in the concern raised by the writer.

Dated 2 months ago but still relevant.
An article/comment by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on Kartika's case I read in July on the Star Online.

Wednesday July 29, 2009

Emphasise positive personal change

Malaysian Syariah authorities should reconsider the law on consuming alcohol, which is described in the Quran in the mildest language of prohibition.
ON July 20, the Pahang Syariah High Court sentenced part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor, 32, to a RM5,000 fine and six lashes of the rotan for drinking beer.
No doubt the court has the jurisdiction to impose such a sentence as provided by the law.
Some have questioned the appropriateness of the sentence of whipping given that the court has discretion to impose a mixture of fine, imprisonment and binding Kartika over for good behaviour for a certain period, or just admonish her.
Others have questioned the appropriateness based on the legitimate argument that the Syariah holds Muslims responsible for their actions that result in negative opinions of Islam.
A news item like this certainly presents Islam and Malaysia negatively on the international stage.
But I would urge the Malaysian Syariah authorities to seriously reconsider the Syariah basis of this law on the following Syariah grounds:
Neither the Quran nor the Hadith invokes a penalty for alcohol consumption. The sin of consuming alcohol is described in the Quran in the mildest language of prohibition.
When it comes to dietary laws, the Quran commands the believers in Sura 5:3: “forbidden (hurrimat) to you is the dead animal, loose blood, and the flesh of the pig”.
The 90th verse of the same Sura cautions the believers that “wine, gambling, etc, are an impurity so avoid them (fa-jtanibuh)”.
Some legal scholars suggest that the divine command ijtinab, to avoid something, is milder language than tahrim, prohibition.
A Muslim consuming a glass of wine with a pork chop commits a more serious offence in eating pork; yet as there is no Quran or Hadith penalty for consuming pork, there is also none for alcohol consumption.
The question then is how did the penalty for alcohol consumption come about?
It occurred during the time of the second Caliph Umar b. al-Khattab. There was a companion of the Prophet (sahabi) who had fought on the Prophet’s side in his battles.
A heavy drinker, he would walk the streets of Madina drunk at night and loudly shout scandalous things about people. The inhabitants of Madina complained, and Umar formed a committee to decide what to do.
Imam Ali, based on the man having committed slander, suggested the penalty for slander, whose maximum penalty is 80 lashes.
Since that time, this has been considered the maximum penalty for alcohol consumption, based on utilising the Syariah concept of ta`zir (deterrence).
I disagree with this being the mandatory sentence for the offence of wine consumption, because it is the maximum sentence for another, separate offence – slander – albeit committed under the influence of alcohol.
Had the man just fallen on the street in a stupor and suffered a terrible hangover without having hurt anyone, no punishment would have been established.
Had cars existed then and had he run his car over some pedestrians and killed them, should we invoke ta`zir now and have a penalty for alcohol consumption equal to that of accidental manslaughter?
There are additional arguments we can marshal from the Quran and Hadith. The Quran repeatedly urges Muslims to forgive those who wrong them, even for slander and manslaughter!
When the Prophet Mohamed’s wife Aisha was wrongly accused of having committed adultery, her father Abu Bakr sought to have the penalty of libel meted against one of his employees who had slandered her.
God then revealed verse 24:22, urging the believers to pardon and forgive those who have wronged them, so that God would forgive them their own sins.
But I see no evidence that Kartika wronged anybody after drinking beer.
Verse 4:92 gives the penalty for a Muslim accidentally killing another as freeing a slave and paying compensation to the victim’s family – unless the family forgoes compensation and forgives the offender.
And if the defendant can’t afford to pay, then he should fast for two consecutive months. Accidental homicide is a much greater sin than alcohol consumption; yet the Quran suggests that the victim’s family would do well to forgive the offender, and the penalty here is not jail time or corporal punishment, but a two-month fast.
The Quranic and Prophetic teachings are about forgiveness, compassion and positive personal transformation. Sura 48:29 describes Prophet Mohamed’s companions as “firm against unbelievers and compassionate to themselves”, and this is what I urge the Malaysian authorities to exemplify: show compassion to Kartika and forgive her.
But if the Pahang Syariah court insists on establishing a penalty for the mere consumption of alcohol, why not replace the current law – a maximum penalty of a RM5,000 fine and six lashes of the rotan – with spending RM5,000 on feeding the poor and fasting for six days?
Wouldn’t that be more in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Quran and the Prophetic Sunnah?
Were this the case, I have a hunch that many Malaysians who imbibe may voluntarily mete such a “penalty” on themselves – to the benefit of the poor, to the benefit of their own spiritual progress and standing before God on Judgment Day, and to the benefit of the Malaysian Syariah Court’s, Islam’s and Malaysia’s image on the international stage.

> Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an international organisation devoted to improving West-Muslim world relations, and author of “Islam, A Sacred Law, What Every Muslim Should know about the Shariah”.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Curious Dreamer. Dulu, Kini dan Akan Datang

OMBAK-OMBAK turun menurun Storm In A Box

My journey into researching Dreams as a movement and performance study began as I started exploring and creating solo works. Such as Berkumandangnya Qasidah, Stirrings and Feast of Fools. At that period of time while I was absorbed in creating those works, I was not at all conscious that my creative process were indirectly a kind of predictive journey symbolizing signs of what was coming (akan datang) - the future happenings that were going to take place in my future. As the years passed by, and as I reflected and gazed back into time, I realize that the emotional and creative pre-experiencing and process of dramatizing my inner thoughts and dreams into my solo performances, was not only an accidental and unconscious journey that was telling me what lies ahead, but it was also coincidentally shadowing and shaping out the chapters of my life. As though offering clues of the coming challenges that I will have to endure towards learning and discovering balance and harmony. It may sound totally absurd to you. And I am not at all suggesting that I am a fortune teller or a clairvoyance through my artistic work. And I am not able to explain nor wish to share with you what were the choreographic signs and codes that I chose to use, that could convince me or you to believe my theory today - as I am myself trying to codify the secrets of performance and a performer's state of being. Even though at the time of creation - I was probably not knowing what the future holds or that I was actually weaving my future through my dances. I was in the moment of creative process, or what performance theories refer to as an artistic experience of 'dream-travel'. When I look back at the choreographies, some essence of it was realized. For example, Stirrings (created in 2002), and within a year after creating it. I found myself the asian washer woman, working in homes, cleaning to survive and provide myself and my daughter money - as we were cut off from any financial help when I began to plead for separation and divorce. And years after, I experienced in my life the 'mahsuri tragedy', that was the very root of my choreography in Feast of Fools - Copenhagen version (2003) - (of course in reality minus the hukum mati, the sumpah and death). My tragedy was not as catastrophic as Mahsuri, but even so it was almost as dramatic. I made it through a struggle for divorce, amidst accusations and attempts to slander me and my role as the wife, and as a mother to my daughter (which is regretfully a common way for most divorced man, regardless of religion and race - to continue digging, accusing or find every little fault of mothers, even if they have to lie or exaggerate every detail that could make the mother look bad to use it against her so as to gain absolute custody, and cut her from her rights to share in the care and upbringing of her children).

The choreography Feast of Fool focuses on how a woman continues to fight to defend the truth despite the lies, the taboos, the accusations(fitnah) that are made against her by evoking and awakening the rebellious power within her.

Through my work in Berkumandangnya Qasidah, I expressed a being holding on to her faith, through hardships, struggles and challenges, the being has faith in Allah, and by believing, with wings in hand,... the being continues on to recite the Dua Kalimah Syahadah seeking for the rightful path towards transcendence.

And many years after, today I find myself standing strong and still, and in perfect balance - still living and still dream working. Observing my past works and tracing back the path I have chosen to take in life, has given me the opportunity to be grateful and thankful for having this third eye, to reflect on my creative works that opens up a dimension within me to receive a revelation or even to stir a revolution........ allowing me to embody courage, joy and passion of recovery and change.

Many years after those works were created and performed (dulu), it has inspired me further to dwell and investigate research on the power of dreams. Dream as a message from our unconscious self expressed in codes. Dreams as our inner wishes and hopes for the present (kini) and the future (akan datang), if you can dream, you can do. And dreams as a wish-fulfillment, that can lead to the creative integration of the personality ... a spiritual healing, a transcendence and change. So there I was and will always be, manifesting and pursuing my dreams as well as help others. I was curious if I could use this theory of dream travel, dream power, dream journey through the practice of dance/creative arts as a way to outreach individuals and community, to provide all people regardless of race, religion, age, status, needs and abilities, a platform to unlock God's potential to shape positive social integration, spirituality, balanced health and mental wellness.

I continued walking through the years from 2002 with curiosity - eager to seize on making sense and impressions of dreams in dance, as a magical space and moment, a state of the human journey seeking, struggling and grasping the beautiful sublime of the essence and being, looking for heaven (syurga) or wherever the destination of our dream that God is leading us to and pointing us towards. Expressing human courage and passion to work, fight and strive through the unknown and the living. With that, Dream Trilogy was created between 2004 - 2006 at Codarts in Rotterdam to test drive my theory, Jadi-Jadian was inspired from this curiosity. 7 woman dreaming, each one narrating their journey towards finding the warrior or hero within them. I was exploring Carl Jung's theory;

that everyone in the world is born with the same basic subconscious model of what a "hero" is, or a "mentor" or a "quest," and that's why people who don't even speak the same language can enjoy the same stories.

Jung developed his idea of archetypes mostly as a way of finding meaning within the dreams and visions of the mentally ill: if a person believes they are being followed by a giant apple pie, it's difficult to make sense of how to help them. But if the giant apple pie can be understood to represent that person's shadow, the embodiment of all their fears, then the psychotherapist can help guide them through that fear, just as Yoda guided Luke on Dagoba. STAR WARS - The hero's journey. If you think of a person as a computer and our bodies as "hardware," language and culture seem to be the "software." Deeper still, and apparently common to all homo sapians, is a sort of built-in "operating system" which interprets the world by sorting people, places, things and experiences into archetypes.

I wanted the opportunity of conducting the Trilogy as a built-in operating system. Jadi-Jadian was an attempt to discovering the archetypes in movement within the 7 woman's dream, and how in a group process could use the authentic and metaphoric elements of the movement to transcend ourselves from the Wounded-Healer Paradigm, by associating ourselves with the hero journey of these archetypes. A process I found that I could use on the performers to lead them towards making a dream dance and choreography as a performance 'therapeutic' experience not only for themselves but hopefully for the audience too. It was my first attempt to create a group dance with dancers since my last group work was created with Shakti Dances. And a year later, followed by Guna-Guna 2005. Turun - Menurun 2008 was to be the end of the Trilogy,... but till today I am still convinced that Turun - Menurun that was created for Storm In A Box - A dance installation produced by Ombak-Ombak has a further journey to take, and what was made was only a skeleton since there was a dateline for production. The choreography needed more in-depth study and time for me to gaze and reflect on a shared dream - of the people I work with for the choreography. And I have yet to continue seeking how to apply this dream process with the performers to complete and make a final closure of the research. I am also eager to embark on a different journey with Dream Trilogy as a process of compiling Jadi-Jadian, Guna-Guna and Turun-Menurun into a choreographic work that promotes inclusion, and eventually a celebration of shared dreams and hopes for a new community of dance expressing power, identity and belonging - that stirs a change to include everyone, and where each and every person is counted.

Reflecting on my early days of solo choreography, I as the Shakti warrior, the Urban Shaman inspiring a group and community,.... a dream worker and activist,.. I will continue holding on to the Senoi Tribe principles of dream theory. That we, can learn to control our dreams to reduce fear and increase pleasure and passion,... that dreams can be shaped and controlled through positive group experience as a source of wisdom and personal growth and with hope for positive transformation. And so I will continue dreaming and for this year in April 2009, I initiated and embarked myself into another Dream project, and this time produced by BOLD in collaboration with Disted-Stamford Penang. We had on our team great creative friends and Play Therapist Dr. Tan Liok Ee, Priscilla Ho, Leong Min See and the facilitators Ho Sheau Fung, Junita Batubara, Yasu, M.Hanif, Ni'sya, Aida Redza, Kang Hooi Keng, Joie Koo, Doris Lee, Eng Hee Ling and not forgetting Ombak-Ombak Lee and Advising Consultant Alex Chew, in producing Dream A Dream (DaD) PHASE 1 Pilot project - a creative process program that promotes inclusive arts among young children of different needs and abilities.
I dedicated this DaD proposal and initiation of the program through BOLD as a platform for voicing children's hope for all parents, teachers and guardians, to instill tolerance, understanding, compassion, love and joy towards children's emotional, physical, creative and spiritual needs,. Focusing on father's to work hand in hand with mothers and carers, to provide and fulfill children's wishes and dreams for a balanced, safe, peaceful and complete living that they deserve.

My work this days and for the future are as simple as that.

Vibrating the chakras

Un-Cut Malaysian Art Festival. August 09

Blind Spot. Metropolis Biennale, Copenhagen August 09

Storm In A Box. Sonata Tropica. 2008 Picture by Goh Hun Meng
Fly jentayu Fly. Picture by Leonard Kong. March 09

Anne James, Seven Skins
The Light Show, April 2009

Below I have pasted an article on Chakras. Please read it at your own discretion. I have included it in my blog as it has proven to be a good educational reading for all, as it is the vibrating energy that keeps my passion alive. Dance in its many manifestations I believe vibrates the chakras of the doer, and in turn inspire a carthatic experience to those observing or experiencing with the doer their vibrating psycho-physical dimension, by participating in the act of whirling, twirling, circling with dance physically and emotionally. This sharing or counter-transference between doer and participants will simultaneously stimulate their own chakra points, to a balance. I embody this principle of vibrating the chakras within my approach of dance not only to stimulate creative dream-travel in my solos, but also as a teaching methodology to inspire the spark of creativity among all that i teach, young and old. Although the principle of vibrating the chakras via dance and movement - is an unspoken goal within my approach (i do not preach it), and even though considered a jaded approach in performance studies but I believe it requires a new breath of revival, application and appreciation. In the context of applying my technique, it is a study that explores 3 R in authentic and metaphoric with emphasis on adaptive body system and expressions within a creative healing ritual performance process. I will begin to introduce and weave this principle of approach in a group work in the Year 3 & 4 of the New DanceLEAPS workshop - LIVING EXISTING in ART PLAY STORYTELLING

What are Chakras?
An article presented by KayahRa of Spiritual Network

The word 'chakra' is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning 'wheel'; but perhaps even a better translation would be spinning wheel. If you could see chakras (as many of us whom work with them do) you would be able to see each primary chakra as a spinning vortex or wheel of energy; spinning inward from the front of your body towards the center point of that chakra on the kunilini and then spinning outward from that same point from your back.

Chakra Locations
The chakras start at the base of the spine and go up through the head on the kunilini which is located almost on your spinal column. The kunilini is shaped like a staff and many have mentioned that the Twenty-third Psalm of The Bible is speaking of the kunilini. Almost all religions believe in the spiritual and energy power points within the human body and these power points are called chakras.

There are seven primary or main chakra points with about a hundred smaller secondary chakras. The smaller points are often called meridians and are used during acupuncture to attune the Chi flow. The secondary chakra points are influenced with action and physicality while the seven primary chakras deal with emotions and spirituality. The primary chakras influence your health greatly, the health concerns related to them are caused by an unbalance in the chakra itself, from an emotional or spiritual cause, which then manifests into a physical ailment. Chakra Healing Each chakra relates strongly to a specific part of the body, specific emotions, mental, and spiritual concerns. Seven Chakras Health/Body Collation Chart

Vibrations of Chakras
Each chakra has a different frequency of vibration, symbol, color, and sound that it is attuned to. When the chakra is balanced, clear, and energized it would be in tune and play the most wonderful sound of it’s own, emitting the proper vibration for that chakra. Many things can effect the vibrations including sounds of voice, drums, music, chants, mantras, the vibrational energy of colors, and of course gemstones. All colors and sounds are vibrations and using the sounds and colors of the chakras assist them in becoming aligned and balanced. The colors of the chakras are that of the rainbow; starting at the root chakra black/red, orange, yellow, green/pink, light blue, indigo, and violet/white for the seventh chakra.

Each chakra needs to be able to function at the correct frequency independently. Each needs to be balanced, clear, energized, and properly spinning. Each time all the chakras reach a level of unison the entire physical vibration of the human body is raised.

Think of a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest and best. Next, think of each chakra needing to be at the same number on that scale. Once each individual chakra is at the same number your entire physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual body raises into its own new vibrational level to match that of the chakras. The more chakra energy work you do the higher your whole body will be raised on this scale with ten being enlightenment while still in this physical human form.

Unbalanced and Blocked Chakras = Illness
When your chakras are not vibrating or spinning properly you are unable to move your physical, emotional, and mental body onto a higher spiritual level. When we are born we can have a perfect balance or have an imbalance from the past lives we bring with our spirit. Although the human body is just a vessel and a machine it is seldom broke from manufacturer reasons and natural biological causes. Each chakra effects different parts of the body and almost all illness is caused by poor chakra health.
Chakra Healing Illness is usually for us, or those around us, to learn higher lessons. You are given intuition and hints all the time about what you should be doing and how you should be living but we often ignore the words from Spirit and our higher selves. We are too often stuck in the reality and physicality of life to listen to our inner selves. Eventually, the chakras become out of balance and since you are stuck in the reality - the chakra manifests the energy imbalance into the physical; the health of your physical body.

When you have chakra blocks you slow down the Chi, the life force, and the spiritual connection. You may feel depressed, out of touch, like you lost something, tired, unable to clearly think, or listless. You may get angry for no reason, be afraid, be unsure of yourself, lack self-confidence, be unhappy without a direct understood reason, and have a general negative outlook on life. All of these are indications that you have a problem to resolve that is chakra based.

Balanced Chakras = Happiness & Health
Universal Love, Energy, and Knowledge (ULEK™) flows through the chakras. It is important that you try to maintain the correct energy flow through each chakra since you could also negatively be effected by a chakra being too open. Remember that balance in each, and balance in all in comparison to one another is what you seek. When the chakras are aligned on the kunilini and balanced the energy flows freely from the primal base to the spiritual chakra allowing us a grounded connection to a higher spiritual communication. Think of each chakra as a water valve and your goal is to have each on the same amount so the ULEK flows through the kunilini, uninhibited and constant.

Cure Yourself through Chakras
Chakra Healing Most major illnesses and ailments are chakra based. Think about how when you feel uncomfortable and almost scared how your stomach gets in an uproar. This is your emotions, your chakra emotions, manifesting into your physical form. When you are no longer scared your stomach eases and returns to normal. Your whole body can be effected depending on the emotions and concerns you carry with you. Childhood and past life issues that you may not be consciously aware of could be the cause of your illness now. I am not saying that every single thing wrong physically is a chakra issue because we are human physical beings that is effected by nature and flukes happen. But on a spiritual level we choose the body we are in this time, or Spirit choose this body for us, for a reason and for lessons to be learned. Chakra work is not easy or painless. We often think we have resolved an issue mentally when there may still be emotional garbage attached to the chakra. We also have a tendency to bury things and those emotions are transferred to a cellular level in our bodies, so clearing those issues may take a lot of work to resurface and resolve.

Any of us who have done major chakra work will tell you that "Gee, I got it all fixed." We then raise to a new physical vibrational level and cope with those feelings of being in two places at once before we settle into our new physical vibrational level. Then just as we think we have it all together we will find more chakra issues to deal with. Often we can not see all the issues because something will be in the way. Once you remove that thing you can see what is behind it, more issues! You will know when an issue is totally cleared when you experience the release on all for levels; physical (you will feel it physically), emotionally (usually crying or screaming), mentally (understanding it like never before), and spiritually (feeling it transmuted into pure unconditional love). But fair warning... even after you think it is gone it can come back or you may not have resolved all the associated emotions, reasons, or spiritual concerns connected with the issue. So perhaps you can never really know if it is totally cleared but you will understand when that part of it is embraced and released.

As you progress to higher levels you will probably need assistance to bring the issues to the surface. We all need help and that is why people have talents for assisting others. Psychologists and psychiatrists help us with our mental and emotional problems which in turn assist the chakras. Our preachers, priests, rabbis and spiritual leaders assist us on the spiritual level. Our doctors help our physical being. So each in turn assist a minor part of the chakra healing and advancement work. But when you can incorporate all those things and healings into the focus of the problems - to each chakra, then you are making true advancements for your whole being.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The beauty of dance and pure Islam

Ever since I left home to live, school and work independently away from my parents at 20, and throughout my first marriage, I have never been blessed to have an elderly imam friend visit our home. Besides, on occasions like family kenduri's held at family and relatives.

On 31 August 2009, we were pleased to have Haji Abdul Majid come to Rasmus and my home for buka puasa and in conjunction with Hari Merdeka in far away Copenhagen, organized by us with our good and dear friends Aisah Hashim and Radin Kasbani. He came with so little words, but he touched me with his open heart and mind, when he came and thank me personally for my art and dance, and that he has heard so much about me and came on behalf of everyone who has told him about me in Malaysia to say that they were proud for all that I have achieved and what I have been doing. His one advice was for me to continue,.... and jangan sekali-kali terasa terpinggir by those who do not understand what you do and what you are fighting for. I do not know why he spoke to me especially when I do not know how much he knows of me and my art, and if he was just making up what he was telling me (which i doubt so), but I was very touched and humbled by his comment and felt the warmth of Allah, that I am being recognized as an open but yet sincere believer in making art that expresses my faith and trust that beauty exist within Islam and that the art of energy in body expression for spiritual development towards our relationship with the world around us and the divine (or at least that is how I perceive the dance I do), .... i have never ever doubted it,.... dance has always been validated.....

I have added an article from on sufism. The beauty of it all is that Sufism is about spiritual development and integral part of its spiritual work is psycho-energetic/psycho-physical practices and its relation to the chakra points.

Sufism is an ancient tradition of spiritual development. It is widespread at present.

Sufism originated inside Islam. Some Sufi teachers-sheikhs say, however, that Sufism cannot be limited to a particular religion, historical period, society, or language. They call Sufism “the pure essence of all religions” and believe that Sufism existed always.

The Sufis, who often call themselves “people of true beingness”, from age to age bring to the world together with their teachings their art, which reflects their perception of the beautiful. The Sufi symbolism, images, and themes are found in a significant part of the oriental folklore, literature, especially poetry. Such is almost all Persian-Iranian classic poetry, which is recognized throughout the world. Widely known are the names of Sufi poets: Sanai, Rumi, Hafiz, Jami, Nezami. One can say the same, though to a smaller degree, about the Arab and Turkic literature, poetry, folklore.

What is Sufism?

The root Sufi means “pure”. It corresponds to the essence of the Sufi teachings and spiritual appearance of its best representatives. The true masters of Sufism, the true Sufis* are indeed pure from the dogmatism and fanaticism, are free from confessional and national prejudices.

Let us talk about the fundamentals of the Sufi teachings:

— Sufism holds a belief that the universe consists of 7 “planes of existence” [2]. This concerns multidimensionality of space.

— The subtlest dimension, which the Sufis call Zat, is the Abode of God in the aspect of the Creator. The Creator and the whole diversity of His Creation (Sifat, in Sufi terms) compose the Absolute. The Creator pervades the entire Creation with His Love.

— The multidimensional human organism, which is similar in its structure to the multidimensional structure of the Absolute, can reveal in itself more subtle forms of beingness. One realizes this by cognizing and perfecting oneself.

Thus only by knowing his true essence man can achieve the direct perception of God and union with Him. This is expressed very laconically in the hadith of Sunna* which reads: “He who cognizes himself cognizes God”. On the final stages of such cognition, the individual human consciousness merges with the Divine Consciousness. This final goal is described in the Sufi tradition as the highest state of consciousness Baqi bi-Allah (Eternity in God). Hindu and Buddhist synonyms of this term are Kaivalya, Mahanirvana, Moksha.

The foundation of Sufism is love (mahabba, hubb). The Sufis even say of their teachings as of “hymn to the Divine Love” and call it tassawuri — love-vision. Love is considered in Sufism as the power which strengthens one’s feeling of being contained in God. This process results in understanding that in the world there is nothing but God, Who is the Lover and the Beloved at the same time.

One of the tenets of Sufism is “Ishq Allah Mabud Allah” (“God is Lover and the Beloved”).

A truly loving Sufi gradually submerges, sinks, and becomes dissolved in the Creator — in his or her Beloved.

The principle of regarding God as the Beloved originated from the Sufi direct experience. The Sufis describe this in the following way. When man traverses a certain part of the Path of Love, God begins to help him more actively by drawing him to His Abode. And then man begins to feel more intensely God’s Divine Love.

Let us see how such love, leading man to God, develops according to the views of Jalaluddin Rumi [10].

This happens:

1) through the development of the emotional, cordial love for all the beautiful and harmonious in the world;

2) through active, sacrificial love-service to people;

3) and then — through extending this love to all manifestations of the world without discriminating between them; the Sufis say: “If you make a distinction between things originating from God — you are not man of spiritual Path. If you think that a diamond can ennoble you and a stone lowers you, then God is not with you” [5];

4) such developed love for all elements of the Creation is redirected then to the Creator — and man begins to see that, according to Rumi, “the Beloved is present in everything” [4,10].

Obviously, this concept of love is identical to the one described in the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament: it has the same milestones and accents. The true love is regarded in Sufism in the same way as in the best spiritual schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity — as the only power capable of bringing man to God.

Quite often Sufi sheikhs live in the world being occupied with common worldly activity. They can operate a shop, workshop, smithy, can compose music, write books, etc. The Sufis believe that one does not need seclusion to go to God. They say that the worldly activity by itself does not separate you from God if you are not attached to its fruits and if you remember about Him. Therefore on all steps of the spiritual ascent, man may be involved into social life. Moreover according to Sufism, it is social life that provides one with the possibilities for perfecting oneself. If every life situation is considered as educational, then one can live side by side with the most awful and despising people. One can be subjected to the most coarse influence — and do not suffer from it; on the contrary, one can be joyful and calm, and perfect oneself through these social contacts given by God.

The sphere of the Sufi teachings includes both esoteric and exoteric sides. That is, murids develop not only ethically, intellectually, psycho-energetically: they also master the methods, the secrets of their sheikh’s craft or art. Later this helps them in life.

An integral part of the spiritual work on all stages of murid’s spiritual ascent is psycho-energetic practice, which significantly accelerates the processes of ethical and intellectual self-development. Let us talk in more detail about psycho-energetic methods of tariqa.

The psycho-energetic teaching in Sufism is performed so that all students receive special tasks from the sheikh, according to their individual peculiarities and capability of comprehending. At the same time, the sheik gives psycho-energetic training for groups of students.

On the initial stages of psycho-energetic practice, the sheik suggests to murids many different exercises for development of the ability of concentration, for stopping the flow of thoughts and achieving the “mental pause”; they also work with images. After that, various psycho-physical exercises are used: rhythmic movements to music, Sufi whirling, etc.

The use of the whole spectrum of these means creates a remarkable purifying effect, develops the energy structures of the organism (anahata, in particular). Some of these exercises cause “subtle attunement” of the body, mind, and consciousness, and bring the participants to the ecstatic state which the Sufis call hal. There are different kinds of hal. Most often the student gains the following kinds of this state: kurb — feeling of the nearness of God, mahabba — felling of the fervent love for God, khauf — deep remorse, shauq — passionate longing for God, etc.

Let us consider some of such practices.

Dances of dervishes, for example, require absolute relaxation of the body and achievement of the full mental pause. Against such background of relaxation and meditative attunement of the consciousness to the Creator, harmonious spontaneous movements of the body occur. They are not planned; they do not originate from the mind, but as if occur spontaneously, Usually, the dances of dervishes are performed with use of meditative music or meditative singing. This ensures proper attunement of all dancers and brings all ready participants to the state of hal.

Another interesting technique is Sufi whirling. It allows one, in particular, to move the consciousness out from the head chakras, what facilitates entering the state of hal. There are various modifications of this technique. Whirling can be performed to music or without it, with use of mantras, with concentration in certain energy structures of the organism. In the latter case, whirling contributes to the development of the chakras. The general rules of performing this exercise are the following:

1) one can start whirling not sooner than three hours after meat meal;

2) whirling is performed to any convenient side, against the background of full relaxation of the body;

3) the eyes are opened and fixed on one of the raised hands or not fixed on anything at all;

4) whirling is performed in individual rhythm, with as smooth beginning and end of the exercise as possible;

5) in case of falling during whirling, one has to turn on the stomach and relax;

6) after performing the exercise, it is necessary to relax;

7) also one needs to be fully confident in the technique, fully “open” when performing the exercise. The duration of the exercise is individual and can vary from several minutes to several hours.

On the “mature” stages of tariqa, one performs intensive work on developing, perfecting the energy structures of the organism. In Hindu terms, this concerns, in particular, the chakras and nadi (meridians). In this work, a special emphasis is put on developing the anahata — the chakra responsible for producing the emotions of cordial love.

One of the techniques of this kind is the meditation of laugh. Its participants lay on the back and completely relax. After meditative attunement, they place one hand on the region of anahata, and another hand — on the region of muladhara, to activate these chakras. Then they begin to move through the organism waves of soft light-laugh (from muladhara — to the head chakras). The meditation of laugh creates a purifying effect and contributes to the development of the chakras, the middle meridian, if it is performed on the due level of subtlety*.

Another technique used in Sufism is zikr. There are many variations, modifications of zikr — according to the traditions of the brotherhood or order, the sheik’s mastery. Zikr is performed in the following way:

All participants stand or sit in a circle. The sheik gives meditative attunement and then, by his instruction, the participants begin to perform a series of consecutive exercises. These exercises are rhythmic movements performed in ever-increasing tempo (for example, bows, turns, sways of the body). With movements, the participants chant praying formulas.

In some orders, they attach a great importance to music, to singing in meditation classes. They believe that music — the food of the soul (ghiza-i-ruh) — is one of the very powerful means contributing to spiritual progress. They widely use music that makes the body move spontaneously (tarab), facilitates entering deep meditative states (saut), etc. In some orders and brotherhoods, they have everyday listening to music, collective classes with singing of mystic verses (sama), ecstatic dances to music, etc.

The effectiveness of these techniques consists, in particular, in the fact that meditations are performed not only in motionless positions of the body but also against the background of movements.

Thanks to the complex use of different methods, one activates several “centers” of the organism: emotional, moving, intellectual ones*. Coordinated, harmonious work of these centers makes possible a quick change in the student’s psychoenergetic state.

Apart from ordinary methods, in Sufism there are “accelerated” techniques of spiritual development. By means of these secret techniques, murids can make very fast advancement. These techniques are given only to those who possess very high psycho-energetic readiness.

The Sufi meditation tradition is very rich and multifarious. It accumulated vast experience of work with the body, mind, and consciousness. The Sufis developed the ways of cognizing Wajd (Samadhi, in Hindu terms), the techniques for accomplishing correct “crystallization” of consciousness in the higher spatial dimensions, and methods for mastering Fana-fi-Allah (Nirvana in the Creator).

In Sufism there are many original things. However, one can see its remarkable similarity to the spiritual traditions of other best religious schools and directions — the similarity of goals, the ways of their realization, and even of the methods. This indicates an important thing: that Sufism, Hesychasm, Taoism, Buddhist mysticism, classic Hindu yoga, the way of the Mexican school of Juan Matus, and some other directions are based on the same laws of spiritual development. It is only the realization of these laws that can be different in different cultural and historical conditions. And always there are people who — independent of their spiritual traditions — can successfully walk the Sufi path.