From Java to Manila: Learning the Sabetan

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In his return to the Philippines from a nine-month Indonesian Dance scholarship sponsored by the Indonesian Embassy, Jeremy dela Cruz shared his knowledge to the UP community through Sabetan: Sayaw Kaginoohan, a dance lecture demo held on December 5, 2012 at Sulod Tagibanwa, Faculty Center, College of Arts and Letter, University of the Philippines Diliman.

Dela Cruz presented basic dance routines of Java Dance, rendition of movement through characters, use of weapons and masks (Klana Topeng). He started off with essential vocabulary in the dance: Sembahan, Jengkeng, Besut, Lumaksono, Trecet, Ombakbanyu. Each step is composed of many stances. The Sabetan itself is composed of seven basic sequences: Tanja, Hoyong, Jorgo, Tukko, Selek, Incet and Angkat. There are specific hand gestures namely Putri Kalangtinantang,  Alus Kalangtinantang, Kambeng and Bapang.

The Rantaya Gagah Sequence 1:
-Lumaksana Kambeng (7x Besut)
– Lumaksana Kambeng (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Kambeng (3x Ombakbanyu/Srisik)
-Lumaksana Kalangtinantang (7x Besut)
-Lumaksana Kalangtinantang (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Jomplangan (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Kalangtinantang (7x Ombakbanyu/Srisik)
-Lumaksana Bapang (7x Besut)
-Lumaksana Bapang (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Bapang (11x OBS)
-Lumaksana Bapang Jomplang (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Bapang Jomplang (7x Besut)
-Lumaksana Bapang Lombo (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Bapang Tranjal (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Jeglong (5x Sabetan)
-Lumaksana Jeglong (3x OBS)

Key to defining the timing in dance is the music as well as breathing through counting in Bahasa. You can either go slow or fast though Gagah character is always strong and full of suspension. It takes painstaking training and discipline to fully understand Indonesian dance. Physically, it may take three months for the muscles to take to its system and memorize one basic step.

What is advantageous in Indonesian dance is that it is codified from tradition while up to the contemporary time, culture and art scene in the country is very much alive with government subsidy and master-student mentorship. Every eldest child in the country is entitled to be sent to the art school for training.

About Joanna Lerio

cultural journalist, multidisciplinary artist, educator, traveller, dreamer, yogini, vegetarian, advocate
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