Indonesian dance teaches Bendigo students respect for different cultures

Girton Grammar School students were introduced to the sights and sounds of Indonesian dance on Wednesday. 

Alfira O’Sullivan and Bang Murtala, from Sydney,  tour their Suara Indonesia dance company around the world, teaching routines to people in Palestine, Papua New Guinea and Arnhem Land. 

Girton students were eager to learn choreography heralding from all over the South-East Asian archipelago, including the Ratoh Duek, a dance originating from Mr Murtala’s home province of Aceh.  

Performed kneeling down, the dance combines Acehnese song and body percussion, with dancers hitting the floor, their hands and chest to create elaborate shapes and sounds.  

Head of junior school music Laura Dusseljee described the Ratoh Duek as “beautiful, elegant and graceful” and said she invited Suara Indonesia to Girton so students were exposed to another culture.

“There are different ways of singing, different ways of dancing and different ways of making music,” she said.

“And all of it is valuable.”

She also said joining in multicultural traditions taught students to respect those from backgrounds different to their own.

Mr Murtala said it was exciting to share his culture at a school that does not teach Indonesian language.

“I consider it a big opportunity to, in one hour, give students their first experience of Indonesia,” he said.  

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