Salt is mesmerising from the beginning, when a dimly lit Supriyanto – who some may remember from his work Cry Jailolo at the 2015 OzAsia Festival – gradually appears with his back to us, writhing, stretching and flexing, revealing every muscular movement.
A long strip of reflective material downstage makes us peer at the figure, almost voyeuristically, and Dimawan Krisnowo Adji’s piercing electronic score creates something torturous.
In the second dance, Supriyanto wears a white, translucent organza traditional skirt and squats over a small pile of salt as the low light creates a blurred figure which may be man or beast.
As the lights grow, we see Supriyanto displaying all his physical skills. He is light on his feet and glides across the stage, his hands and fingers bending and pointing fluidly and gracefully, then he strikes a pose and stretch that is reminiscent of his martial arts training.
Quite gently and delicately, he begins to kick the white powder in deliberate patterns across the stage, transforming the landscape from a bleak darkness to one that has light and shade and infinite possibilities.
Selected instruments from a gamelan orchestra integrate with electronic sounds just as the dance fuses traditional moves and modern choreography. Although Supriyanto remains central, his movements are incredibly varied and his delicate finger gestures make it appear as if, at times, he is catching rain.
In the final dance, which sees Supriyanto dressed in a black loincloth, his flexible, pointed toes spread the powder across the stage and his martial art movements and sharp rhythms create patterns and tracks. He paints with the salt and creates a white terrain representing a journey, a past and a future.
Throughout the performance, it is staggering to see how Supriyanto is able to maintain such precision and rhythm with an electronic soundtrack that does not always have clear cues and beats.
Enthusiastic applause on opening night acknowledged the audience had witnessed a master at his craft – one who is aptly described as “the leading Indonesian dancer and choreographer of his generation”.
Salt will have its final performance tonight at the Odeon Theatre in Norwood. Read more InDaily and CityMag OzAsia Festival stories and reviews here.
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