Advocating for an All Inclusive Dance Action for everyone

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.

No comments: