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In 2003 I was awarded a Darmasiswa scholarhsip from Republic of Indonesia Embassy Canberra to study in Yogyakarta at the Institute Seni Indonesia (University of the Arts). There I studied traditional Indonesian dance and music from the islands of Java, Bali, Sumartra, Ache and Sulawesi.

Whilst living in Java I created many collaborative multi-modal performance works inspired by ancient dance traditions. Several artists were interested in my work and I began experimenting with new modes of performance presentation. During the year new works were commissioned and presented by numerous Asia-Pacific festivals including, Lak Lak Eco-Arts, Yogyakarta Digital Arts Festival, International Performance Art Festival at Kedai Kebun Forum and Sumatra Lak-Lak Eco-Arts Festival.

Whilst art-working in Indonesia one of many extraordinary achievements was a powerful improvisation performance in the Sumatra Lak-Lak Eco-Arts Festival on Samosir Island, Lake Toba – situated in an ancient volcano. Collaborating with Dicky Chandra (now the Director of the Indonesian National Art Gallery, Jakarta) I found myself improvising on a rickety bamboo scaffolding sculptural installation in the middle of the Lake. Whilst the wind whipped my hair, and the waves splashed higher on the gigantic ‘fish-trap’ like structure, the traditional Batak music soared into a frenzy of polyrhythmic drums and ecstatic reed flute callings.

Clad in a traditional mask, Pak Miroto (an internationally acclaimed Yogyanese dance artist) reached the structure by canoe and violently danced his way to remove me from the bamboo scaffolding. After a dance of struggle and tension on the rocking canoe I finally freed myself and dived into Lake Toba – much to the shock and distress of the local audience, who imagined I would really drown! Whilst I appear Javanese, I am an accomplished Australian ocean girl swimmer. Somehow I had intuitively re-rendered a traditional myth of the Samosir Island.

Sarsenitala ISI - Alam dan Budaya (Environment and Culture)

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