Group 33 South 10th Anniversary: Taiwan and Indonesia Intersect Through Dance
The Asian Cultural Council Taiwan Foundation has a particularly supportive community in Taiwan.
The pillars of this generous community consists of 3 patron groups: Group 33 North, Group 33 Taichung, and Group 33 South. Based in Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan, Group 33 gathers monthly for lectures, performances, and exhibitions by ACC grantees and friends.
ACCTF board member Hsu Pao-Lin gave a congratulatory speech
Group 33 South gathered in Tainan this April to celebrate their tenth anniversary. The festivities featured a joint performance of Indonesian court dance by ACC grantee Cheng Yin-Chen (Theater, 2015) and Anastasia Melati, a Javanese traditional dancer from Indonesia. Traditional Indonesian court dance requires agility and concentration with subtle movements capable of indicating powerful emotions. Ms. Cheng and Ms. Melati demonstrated their exemplary mastery of the balance required between body and soul inherent in this artistic form. After the performance, Ms. Cheng and Ms. Melati shared insights into the philosophy and spirit of traditional Indonesian dance with an enthusiastic audience, encouraging questions and interactions.
Indonesian court dance by ACC grantees Cheng Yin-Chen (Theater,2015) and Anastasia Melati
ACC Taiwan’s connection to Indonesian performing arts has been growing steadily since the mid-2000s. In 2006, ACC’s former director, Ralph Samuelson, encouraged Chou Yih-Chang, theater pioneer and director of Gang-a Tsui Theater, to apply for an ACC grant for himself and members of his company to study Indonesian court dance. With this grant, as with all ACC grants, Mr. Chou and his company had access to ACC’s remarkable alumni network of artists, scholars, and specialists in Indonesia. This network is especially strong in the performing arts community in Indonesia, and through the engagement of noted performance scholar Sal Murgiyanto (ACC 1984-2000), Mr. Chou initiated a two-year program bringing Indonesian traditional dancers to come to Taiwan for the opportunity to engage with Taiwanese artists and their community. In 2007, a grant to dance legend Lin Hwai Min enabled him to travel to Indonesia to explore classical Javanese dance and conduct workshops on his own technique. In the course of these workshops, Mr. Lin was especially impressed with a dancer named Danang Pamungkas, and he invited him to come to Taiwan to spend time with Cloud Gate Dance Theater. ACCTF supported Mr. Pamungkas’s travel and residency with Cloud Gate, and he was eventually hired to dance with the company, living in Taiwan for three years.
One Gang-a Tsui company member, Cheng Yin-Chen, was especially inspired by her experience of working with the Indonesian dance artists, and in 2016 she applied for a fellowship to study Javanese court dance in Yogyakarta. Through ACC’s network, Ms. Cheng met and studied with Anastasia Melati, an accomplished scholar/practitioner of court dance. After her experience of working closely with Ms. Cheng, and intrigued by the performing arts of Taiwan, Ms. Melati decided to pursue her graduate study in Dance Theory at the Taipei National University of the Arts. ACCTF is thrilled to have Ms. Melati as a part of its network, and Group 33 South was delighted and honored to celebrate its ten year anniversary with Ms. Melati and Ms. Cheng, two brilliant dancers who were brought together through the ACC network.
Below: [traditional dancer, left] Anastasia Melati, [middle] Lin Chen-Mei (ACCTF board member and the chairman of Group 33 South), [traditional dancer, right] Cheng Yin-Chen