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Tuning In | Perempuan Menari preserves traditional Indonesian dances in the digital space

Written by Sara Mandagie Published on     2 mins read

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Perempuan Menari is keeping traditional culture alive through the power of dance.

While some traditions are fading in the era of globalization, there is a group of women in Jakarta keeping traditional Indonesian dance alive. They actively upload videos of their practice sessions onto platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. They even recently started using TikTok to showcase their love for traditional Indonesian dance to the younger generation; 70% of them are aged 45 to 60, and they hope to hand on the torch. The community is named Perempuan Menari. Perempuan means “woman,” and menari means “dancing” in Indonesian.

“We started with only seven people in 2018. Then, within a year, our members grew to around 60 members, and now we have 96 members. Some [heard of the group] through word of mouth from our members. But the majority actually know us from social media. The profiles are varied, from teenagers to people in their 60s—students, housewives, or career women. Not all of us have the experience of being a dancer, so everyone can learn from scratch here. Our mission is simple: we want to keep traditional Indonesian dance alive,” said Pritha Nandini, the founder of Perempuan Menari.

The crew of Perempuan Menari prepare for their December 2020 showcase. Photo courtesy of Perempuan Menari.

The name Perempuan Menari embodies hope for women, especially mothers, to become real role models for the next generation and inspire younger people to preserve Indonesian culture, especially traditional dance. Each year, the group organizes a performance that follows a theme. The first show in 2018 was titled “Seloka Swarnadwipa” (“Energy of the Golden Island, Sumatra”) and featured various Sumatran movements that mingled with Malay variations. The following year, “The Charm of Eastern Indonesia” featured choreography like the Tifa dance from East Nusa Tenggara and the Saureka-reka dance from Maluku. The most recent show was “Genderang Swargabhumi” (“The Sound of Heaven on Earth”) in 2020, where they performed 12 dances originating from west to east Indonesia. In particular, the group featured traditional musical collaborations.

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