Sri Tanjung : The Scent of Innocence
My time has come,
If my blood is fragrant, it is proof that I am innocent.
These were the words of a young woman named Sri Tanjung before she was stabbed to death by her jealous husband Sida Paksa. Gusti Ayu Kencana Merudewi, a young dancer from Singapadu sings these words to a beautiful melody created by Gusti Putu Sudarta, Bali’s renowned artist (shadow puppet master, dancer, composer, vocalist) from Bedulu. Her movements are not of despair, but of a prayer, with an expression of peace.
On the 27th and 28th of February 2009, the Arti Foundation, a cultural organization based in Denpasar, Bali, will present Sri Tanjung: The Scent of Innocence. The newly created dance-drama is rooted in the island’s traditional arts, but is unmistakably contemporary in it!s feeling. The story of Sri Tanjung goes back to the 13th century in East java where we are still able to see the story engraved on various archaeological sights such as the Batur Pendopo of Candi Penataran in Blitar and Candi Surawana in Para, Kediri. In the 17th century, the story was written down in the middle-javanese language and came to be known as the Kidung Sri Tanjung. It was also once a popular repertoire for arja and ritualistic wayang in Bali, but is now all but forgotten. Now, the story is brought back to life through a thorough creative process of research, narrative interpretation, script writing, music and vocal composition, and choreography. The performance bridges the past with the present through clear direction in creativity based on in-depth understanding of traditional art forms. Under the leadership of Kadek Suardana, artists of different generations from various disciplines of the performing arts have been brought together to try out their capacity in the exploration and hybridization of traditional idioms (dance, instrumental and vocal music, wider culture). The outcome is a performance which consists of aesthetically integral contemporary expressions that aims to resonate with a wider audience, and thereby can be presented as an alternative approach in anticipating sustainability and continuation of the traditional arts beyond notions of preservation represented in popular rhetoric of culture.
In Sri Tanjung: The Scent of Innocence, excerpts of texts in middle-javanese language from the Kidung Sri Tanjung is incorporated into Arti’s original script, in addition to other texts from the rich vocal tradition of Bali.The performance climaxes in an almost nostalgic feeling of homage to “purity! or ‘innocence’ when Sri Tanjung is put to death by her husband and her spirit takes a mystical journey to the gates of heaven. The scene is followed by the dance of Dewi Durga (Ra Nini), the guardian of the physical world or the symbol of mother earth, who then empowers Sri Tanjung through ritualistic purification and brings her back to life. Regretting his stupidity or his blind faith towards King Sulakrama who not only tried to steal Sida Paksa!s wife, but had lied to him also, Sida Paksa challenges King Sulakrama in a duel. In the dance-drama, the king’s defeat, or his death, is presented as a symbol of men’s destiny, which the king thinks he can manipulate, but is brought upon himself through his own ambitions and lust.
Concept,Script: Kadek Suardana, Gusti Putu Sudarta, Mari Nabeshima
Direction, Choreography, Instrumental Music: Kadek Suardana
Vocal Music: Gusti Putu Sudarta
Choreography Assistant: Nyoman Sura
Lighting and Set Design: Sonny Sumarsono
Dancers: Gusti Ayu Kencana Merudewi, Gusti Ngurah Supartama, Wayan Sira, Gusti Putu Sudarta, Gede Dharma Suarsana, Ketut Wirtawan
Musicians, Vocalists: Danis Sugianto, Gede Sweca, Kadek Adi Wirawan, Ketut Subrata Made Arthya Talava, A. A. Putra Atmaja, Agung Putra, Abiyoga, Mari Nabeshima Gusti Putu Sudarta, Cok Indah
27, 28th February 2009 at 8pm
Art Centre, Jl. Nusa Indah, Denpasar
Tiara Mas Entertainment