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Asialink June-July

I spent June and most of July in Indonesia and Malaysia on part one of my Asialink residency, hosted by Arts Island Festival – Bali and East Java – and Melaka Arts and Performance Festival.

My trip started with a prelude in Singapore at the ConversAsians platform, at the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, for networking and dialogue. Then it was off to Jakarta in the first week of July, attending the Indonesian Dance Festival and meeting with key organisations including IDF itself, Kelola, Salihara and the Goethe Institute, to talk about both Arts Island Festival and my own producing work. IDF was fascinating; it was the perfect time to meet loads of artists and arts managers and get an overview of contemporary dance work from Indonesia and the region. It was very helpful to give me a sense of where the work of artists and festivals I am involved with ‘sits’ regionally. A personal highlight of IDF was Crack by Amrita Performing Arts (Cambodia), choreographed by Arco Renz of kobalt works. Later in the trip I was fortunate to visit Arco and his collaborators Melanie Lane and Eko Supriyanto in the studio in Solo, where they were working on a new piece.

In Jakarta, at Kelola’s invitation, I gave an afternoon workshop on producing and self-producing skills for a group of dance artists, arts managers and emerging producers. We talked about everything from the artist-producer relationship, partnering with your venue, marketing, documentation, research and advocacy, budgeting and more.

After Jakarta it was off to Yogyakarta, where my main focus was a two-week Bahasa Indonesia language intensive, meeting lots of wonderful choreographers, dancers, directors and visual artists, and assisting Agung Gunawan and his team in preparations for the Arts Island Festival. This was also a rich time of immersion and learning about Javanese culture and arts practice more broadly.

Late in June, things shifted from preparation to the actual whirlwind of the Arts Island Festival in Klungkung, Kediri and Batu – three festival locations in ten days, with artists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, France and New Caledonia. My newly acquired Indonesian language skills were put to immediate, satisfying, use communicating both with artist colleagues and with locals in our festival locations. Agung’s festival is an extraordinary opportunity to not only offer contemporary work to curious and open-minded new audiences, but experience the power and richness of Balinese and Javanese traditional and contemporary cultural practices. My second festival deepened my learning and understanding from last year.

Malaysia was next on the agenda, with a week in Penang at George Town Festival with Tony Yap Company’s Rasa Sayang making its Malaysian premiere at penangpac. We loved working new collaborator in lighting designer and photographer Joie Koo.

As mid-July approached, a week in Kuala Lumpur was an opportunity to get into preparations for Melaka Arts and Performance Festival 2012 and beyond. Meetings with artists, the Australian High Commission, Alliance Francaise KL, Japan Foundation KL, Goethe Institute KL, and MyDanceAlliance all consolidated previous relationships and introduced new potential festival partners and participants.

Finally, this leg of Asialink ended with time in Melaka with festival creative director Tony Yap: venue scouting for the festival, dreaming and planning for future collaborative initiatives.

I will be back to Jakarta and Malaysia during September for follow ups and delivery of the Melaka Arts and Performance Festival.

Kath’s Asialink residency is supported by the Australia-Malaysia Institute and the Australia Council for the Arts.