Giving and getting attention – invisible offerings.
There is performance practice as a sensing feeling action. I craft ideas, concepts, imaginings and memories of performance to reflect on and intuit my experiences with more precise intention based on movement, sound and touch. Performing often as habitual regular ontogenetic activity – somatic movement education, creativity and expression of my life as a mother, lover, dancer, director – practising performance.
In February, travelling from Angourie / Yaygirr wadyarr to meet Ria travelling from Naarm. to be in residence together at the Critical Path Drill Hall in the place of Gadigal people on Dharug Nura, was exciting and wonderful. We worked in the heat and summer storms, feeling the wisdom presence of remaining rainforest trees and palms on the foreshore reserve of the majestic Harbour.
Supporting my confidence and courage with resources of the fellowship invitation to return to the beauty / terror of the place of first settlement – iconic Sydney Opera House and Bridge – for reconnection with peers and mentors whilst reflecting on my formative years studying at NHSPA (Newtown High School of the Performing ARTS). Enlivening to host Rachel, Matt, Justin, Sam and Harley in our creative territory of play and discovery. These connections continued in July at Carriageworks for the Marrugeku Choreographic Lab – Dance & Cultural Dramaturgies in Contested Land.
Asking difficult questions of ourselves and the world. Ria and I attended to our long-time collaborative materials – micro macro nature, embodiment, vocal resonance, interlocking rhythms, craft animism, masking, trance, shadow puppets and collaboration with ancestors. Things took shape and blossomed. We sweated, got dizzy and found new mud and ground water songs.
– Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, November 2023
As part of this Fellowship, she was collaborating with artists Ria Soemardjo, Justin Shoulder, Mathew Stegh and dramaturg Rachel Swain, focusing on water ecologies and experimenting with intimate audience-performer relationships. Embodying the fluid evolution of lifeforms from ocean to land, human embryology, infant developmental movement and archetypes of traditional ecological wisdom. Tracking disasters that destroy communities and familiar environments. And mapping transient moving shelters – shelters rebuilding social interaction and shelters transforming over what remains.
Here you can watch the video (research documentation) filmed at the end of their 10 days fellowship residency at the Drill Hall on Gadigal land (Sydney). The artists, working with dramaturg Rachael Swain, continue researching their shared Javanese cultural heritage and First Nations ecological wisdom – drawing connections with sacred mythology, sea level rise, groundwater contamination, mud volcanoes and escalating flood fire disasters forcing migration, adaptation and innate resilience.
Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal is a choreographer working in performance and extending contemporary dance language through intercultural practice. Her imaginative and highly theatrical work has been made and shared nationally and internationally with a unique dance language forged in classical ballet, jazz, modern, Javanese court arts, Bali temple ritual, BMC eco-somatic improvisation and creative collaboration with First Nations Australian dance artists, most recently Blakdance and Marrugeku.
With vocalist, musician, textiles artist and long-time collaborator, Ria Soemardjo, Jade creates powerful contemporary performance rituals, drawing on their shared Javanese / Australian ancestry, interweaving dance, live music and image. Their most recent iteration, Ngayomi (shelter), is a journey between audience and two performers, set in a dystopian future blasted by an apocalyptic mud volcano, in a newly regenerating landscape.
A powerful response to the devastatingly urgent ecological crisis, this work evokes a ceremony for the losses and horror of the past, grounded in personal (human embryology of body fluid systems, evolution from water to earth) and in communal hope for the future. In Javanese language Ngayomi means to protect and shelter.
The choreographic framework is influenced by the rich and intricate symbolism of the Javanese Wayang Kulit shadow theatre, which is a complex Javanese art form that integrates ritual, philosophy, comedy, and social commentary to tell stories of Archetypal characters and beloved Javanese clown figures through puppetry and music.
Dance and live music are skilfully integrated, challenging conventional separations of dancer and musician roles. An eclectic array of bespoke musical instruments – at times distorted and amplified through water vessels, and simple resonators such as hand drums – are held by the soulful mesmerising soundscape featuring both Ria and Jade’s vocals.
The performers ‘host characters’ inspired by Archetypes of traditional ecological wisdom of Javanese Jamu Baku Aunties – Jawa (Java, Javanese) and Ngramu (mixing, gathering). The two Jamu street sellers dispense herbal concoctions and advice, carrying their Baku (basket) of ingredients on their backs – gently and playfully guide audiences into a direct encounter with small sculptural objects and props.
Audiences become implicated in the intimate ritual – an unexpected flipping of guest/host distinctions. Recruiting the audience into the ritual /storytelling world without them knowing turns the tables – they take charge of it. Switching roles – flipping the expected. Responding to the audience shows the unique needs of each group. Guiding people into a relationship of care and a world of resourcefulness.
Image #1: Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal and Ria Soemardjo during Marrugeku Lab 2023. Photo by Luke Currie-Richardson.
Image #2: Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal during the Drill Hall residency 2023. Photo by Samuel James.
Image #3: Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal during Marrugeku Lab 2023. Photo by Luke Currie-Richardson.