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Crescent Moon cultural day
Saturday 13 May 2006

The Sanggar Isti dance group
Sanggar Isti (Indonesian Art and Dance Studio)


Tarian Rantak (Amazon Dance) from West Sumatra

This dance comes from the strongly Muslim region of West Sumatra, where women have an unusually important social and economic role, including the tradition where all property passes down the female (and not the male) line.
The dance derives from the West Sumatran martial arts tradition and shows the bravery and skill of fearless female warriors. The judo – like movements originated as fighting postures but they have been turned into traditional dance movements.

Dancers: Intan, Diana and Dani


Tarian Saman (Saman Dance)

This unique dance from Aceh does not use music; rather the dancers perform a song while making simultaneous dance movements, led by a lead singer called the “syech”. The dance is said to have developed from the Muslim prayer.
The dance is used to welcome honoured guests and to express praise to the Almighty. The accompanying song instructs the people in the importance of cooperation and teamwork.

Dancers: Dani, Bunga, Diana, Nisa, Yanti, Dini, Neroli, Isabel, and Pina. The two syech’s are Faris and Iskandar. The leader is Mrs Isti Monfries


Mrs Isti Monfries and the Sanggar Isti Dance Studio

For thirty years Mrs Isti Monfries has actively promoted Indonesian culture in a variety of localities outside Indonesia, first as a dancer and batik artist, and increasingly in recent years, as a dance teacher.
In the past ten years in Canberra, the Sanggar Isti studio has built up a repertoire of nearly forty regional dances. Dancers are mostly daughters of Embassy officials and Indonesian students at the universities here; some have been with Mrs Monfries for up to eight years and are now very accomplished performers. The studio, which is run on a semi-social and not a commercial basis, owns all the costumes and accoutrements for these dances.
The Studio has supplied high-standard performances for a series of events, including the Canberra Festival most years, multi-cultural festivals, and the 17 August celebrations each year. Her group joined a high-profile cultural evening in early 2005 to raise funds for victims of the tsunami, at which they performed the Acehnese Saman dance. Mrs Monfries and a Studio dance group accompanied the former Indonesian Ambassador on his visit to Vanuatu in 2005. She taught Indonesian dance and music at a local high school, as part of which she participated with staff members in receiving a visit from the Australian Prime Minister, later receiving a letter of thanks from Mr Howard himself.  Sanggar Isti Dance Studio January 2006.

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For more information contact the Education Office
phone +61 2 6240 6519
fax: +61 2 6240 6560

Education Section
National Gallery of Australia
GPO Box 1150
Canberra ACT 2601