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Saung Budaya: Introduce New Yorkers to Indonesian Culture In A Fun Way

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Saung Budaya:  Introduce New Yorkers to Indonesian Culture In A Fun Way

Saung Budaya is an Indonesian Dance Group based in New York City. It was founded by Amalia Suryani in 2006 with intentions to introduce Indonesian culture through music and dances. The group has presented an array of traditional and contemporary art and culture from Indonesia. Throughout the years, Saung Budaya has grown to become a vital part of the Indonesian community culture in New York. Their goal is to introduce Indonesian culture through dance and music to the Indonesian-American youths in New York City and more generally, to the wider public.

saung budaya dance group. source:
saung budaya dance group. source:

A variety of dances from all over the Indonesian Archipelago are taught within the group who have performed around New York City, Upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Saung Budaya currently consists of 20 dancers whom are mostly students and young professionals.

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, Saung Budaya held an event titled “Gong: Spirits of Archipelago”. It was held on September 13th 2016 at the Riverside Theater, New York, United States. The title GONG, is based on the South East Asian metal percussion instrument that is hit with a mallet. Though Indonesia’s various islands have different cultures, stories, and souls, the one constant in all things music is the sound of the Gong. Its distinct sound is quite deep and subtle however it is a sound that is familiar to the people of Indonesia. Its significance in daily life is to bring communities together for a start of a celebration; in music and dance, it is the constant sound for tempo and movement.

Pakarena dance from South Sulawesi. source:
Pakarena dance from South Sulawesi. source:

In this event, Saung Budaya performed 10 dances with eight newly choreographed traditional dances and two contemporary dances accompanied by a live music ensemble from Indonesia. The 10 dances are Nihau Tintu dance from Kalimantan, Indang and Amban Puruak dance from West Sumatra, Marsipature Hutanabe dance from North Sumatra, Gending Sriwijaya dance from South Sumatra, Pakarena dance from South Sulawesi, Zapin dance from Riau, Bajidot Kahot dance from West Java, Yosim Pancar dance from Papua, and Kembang Latar dance from Betawi.

Yosim Pancar dance from Papua. source:
Yosim Pancar dance from Papua. source:

Like the Gong, Saung Budaya has a similar role within the Indonesian American community. This production will showcase the different stories of these islands through the subtle yet important sounds of the Gong and how it unifies Indonesian people and its various cultures.

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