The second week of the UK/ID festival started with the sold-out international premiere of Rosalind, a moving dance rework of Shakespeare’s 'As You Like It' by James Cousins Company performed by dancers from South Korea and Japan.
Following the performances in Jakarta and Solo, James Cousins ran two workshops in Jakarta facilitated by the British Council and the non-profit organisation Ballet ID which was founded in 2014 with the aim to establish and enable a supportive and positive environment for young ballet dancers in Indonesia.
We spoke with Mariska and Tabita from Ballet ID to find out what they thought of Rosalind, and how the workshops went in Jakarta.
Did you see the performance of Rosalind? What was the audience reaction?
Mariska: Yes, we saw the performance. People really enjoyed it. All the lighting, the simple set, with only a cube in the middle of the stage, and the original music which was created specially for the piece…it was really amazing.
Tabita: Actually, a lot of people were surprised to see Shakespeare’s work could be translated into something like this. Frankly, Shakespeare is not really popular in Indonesia. A lot of people don’t even know what ‘As You Like It’ is! To see something as “ancient” as Shakespeare performed in this way, it was amazing. Rosalind was given a full page review in the biggest Bahasa Indonesian newspaper, and one in the biggest English newspaper too.
After the performances, you helped facilitate two dance workshops in Jakarta with James Cousins. Can you tell us about them?
Mariska: We had two open workshops in Jakarta, with a total of 45 participants. Each workshop was two and a half hours long and was conducted by James Cousins himself. We don’t have so many contemporary dance classes here in Jakarta, so it was a great opportunity to do these. The workshops were so popular that we hit full capacity within two days of opening registration.
I was really surprised by how he taught the class. I’ve done many contemporary workshops myself before and sometimes its really abstract, with lots of improvisation. But James really emphasised the techniques, and went through full sequences and strengthening. It was really great. The participants also learnt a small part of the Rosalind piece itself which was really amazing.
I asked James after the workshop, 'What do you think about Indonesian dancers?', and he said ‘They work really, really hard’. And I think it’s because there are not so many opportunities to learn, especially for contemporary dance, so they are really keen. They’re so hungry to learn something from someone else.