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Saturday 5th October 2019, Paul Webley Wing, SOAS, University of London, Russel Square WC1H 0XG

Dance

-. Beskalan: past/present, remembering/ forgetting. Gill RobertsBeskalan is a dance from Malang in East Java, said to date from the early 20th century but probably with much older roots. A forerunner of the more famous Ngremo, Beskalan is most often done as an opening or welcomeing dance, but was also associated with ritual events of purification or thanksgiving. Performed by Gill Roberts, who learned the dance from Mak Riati and Mbah Rasimun, two locals in Tumpang, Malang, some 25 years ago. Gill introduces the dance with a short reflection on that experience, on how the dance has gained more prominence in recent years, and on how it is being passed on to young people in Java today.

Gill Roberts has been studying and performing Javanese dance since the early 1990s. She spent time in East Java at the PSMD arts centre near Malang, then run by Ki Soleh Adi Pramono and his wife Karen Elisabeth Schreiber. While there, Gill learned Beskalan from Mak Riati, who had returned to performing it in her late 70s after a break of over 30 years, and from Mbah Rasimun, who also passed on his version on to the renowned dancer Didik Nini Thowok.

Gill Roberts

Gill has performed with many gamelan groups in the UK, including the South Bank Gamelan Players and Lila Cita gamelan, as well as in Java; she has led dance workshops and projects for the South Bank Centre and was choreographer for BBC TV's Mata Hari: Unveiling the Myth.

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