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Teens dance to gold UNIQUE PERFORMANCE: Sarawak arts school students shine at Georgian arts festival

Saturday, June 16, 2012

By DESMOND DAVIDSON | news@nst.com.my 0 comments




A GROUP of 16-year-olds from a performing arts school here travelled north to a country they have never heard of before, and danced their way to become the “gold diploma” champion of an arts festival.

The 12 teenage dancers and four musicians from Sekolah Seni Malaysia in Petra Jaya “simply mesmerised the judges with the uniqueness of our ethnic dances”, said music teacher Paka Siam.

They won their title at the 2nd international folk dance and song festival in the seaside city of Baitumi, on the Black Sea coast of the former Soviet state of Georgia.

The festival, held from June 6 to 11, was organised by the International Council of Organisations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts, an international cultural non-governmental organisation in formal consultative relations with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

“The audience were bowled over by the haunting strain of the sape — a two to four-string musical instrument — and the melody of the jating utang — a musical instrument similar to the xylophone — that accompanied the dances,” Paka said.

Both musical instruments were from the Orang Ulu tribe.

“We were in a league of our own. The audience never saw our dances or heard our music before. When they did, they were simply amazed. It was all so different from the Russian, Polish and Turkish dances which they are familiar with.”

The students performed two mandatory dances at the competition — the traditional and creative dance categories.

In the traditional category, they performed a Murut dance called Megunatip.

In the creative category, they performed the Lambey Kamek — a fusion of Sabah and Sarawak Orang Ulu dances.

In the free performance, they danced to the moves choreographed by their teacher, Yusof Bujang, called Rampaian Malaysia (Malaysian medley). Lee Sanchis Linus, one of the dancers, described the competition as “very tough”.

“Every country gave a good performance but what made us stand out was our uniqueness.

“I just cannot describe my joy and happiness when we were announced as the overall champions of the competition,” said the 16-year-old from Sipitang, Sabah.

Paka was also proud of the fact that the young dancers and musicians were successful in introducing Malaysia to the people of Georgia.

“Many of them do not know Malaysia, just like we don’t know anything about Georgia. But the Malaysian dance performances were broadcast on television and seen by millions of Georgians.”

Last year, the school sent only eight dancers to the competition in St Petersburg, Russia, and they won the “silver diploma”.


Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagang was at the Kuching airport on Wednesday to welcome home the students and their teachers.

Read more: Teens dance to gold UNIQUE PERFORMANCE: Sarawak arts school students shine at Georgian arts festival – General – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/teens-dance-to-gold-unique-performance-sarawak-arts-school-students-shine-at-georgian-arts-festival-1.94993#ixzz1y6ii25k2