Indonesian group taking part in dance activity.

Dialogue Moves: Embodying Diversity through Amerta Movement in Indonesia

Project team

Dr. Emma Meehan

Funder

Leverhulme Trust

Total value of project

 £22,060

Collaborators

  • Dr. Samsul Maarif Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
  • Dr. Diane Butler, Intl. Foundation for Dharma Nature Time

Duration of project

3 month fellowship (delayed due to COVID-19 temporary international travel restrictions)

Project overview

This fellowship investigates how Amerta Movement practice supports dialogue between diverse ethnic and religious communities in Indonesia. This is especially important in a country where ‘unity in diversity’ is the national motto. As the fourth most populated country in the world, Indonesia has around 500 native ethnic groups, creating a distinctly plural society living in close proximity (Butler 2016, 4).

Suprapto Suryodarmo is an internationally recognised figure in the field of dance and somatic practices who worked with diversity in arts at his organisation Lemah Putih in Java; and this fellowship examines the legacy of his work in movement as a form of dialogue. In particular, the role of embodiment will be analysed, not just in relation to the physical appearance of the body, but rather how it is felt and experienced, to understand ‘how people know the world through their bodies, particularly through movement in space’ (Wilde 2003, 171).

Questions include:

  • What role can dance and somatic practices play in understanding how religious/ethnic values are expressed through embodied practices?
  • How are practitioners who apply principles from Amerta Movement navigating the complex social and cultural factors encountered working with and for diverse audiences?
  • Can dance knowledge of embodiment be integrated into religious and cross-cultural studies in understanding diversity management?

Hosted by the Centre for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Meehan will engage with cross-disciplinary approaches through exchanges with researchers, policy makers, movement practitioners and community participants. The fellowship will address the work of Suryodarmo and several artists who studied Amerta Movement in Indonesia, to observe how they facilitate cross-community interaction through movement in outdoor public sites. It also aims to stimulate wider debate on what dance and movement research can contribute in understanding cross-community dialogue as a set of embodied practices.

Project objectives

  1. Reviewing literature/archives on dance/movement in religious and ethnic contexts in Indonesia
  2. Setting up knowledge exchanges between dance, religious and cross-cultural studies at Universitas Gadjah Mada, including discussion groups and a sharing art festival with talks and artistic presentations
  3. Observing training sessions and performances by several artists who studied Amerta Movement and work with diverse groups in Solo, Java and in Bali
  4. Interviewing practitioners and policy makers on diversity management in Indonesia, exploring what role dance and movement play

Impact statement

This fellowship aims to address how dance and movement practices support dialogue between different religious and ethnic groups, focusing on Indonesia as a plural society with cutting edge practice exemplified by the work of Suprapto Suryodarmo.

Outputs

Outputs include:

  • Reading/discussion groups and a public sharing art festival, with associated blogs posts.
  • A conference paper, article and funding bid will be co-authored on dance for religious and cross-cultural dialogue with collaborators.
  • Outcomes include an enrichment across disciplines on the role movement can play in negotiating diversity in Indonesia.

The fellowship also aims to stimulate wider debate on what dance practices and research can contribute in understanding cross-community dialogue as a set of movement practices.

Image Credit: Fiqh Vredian, courtesy of CRCS UGM Newsletter, March 2018. Consent received.

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