Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante in "Tigerlily and the Dragonfly". Photo: Julie Lemberger

“Sunda Upasunda-NYC Brothers” Revealed

One-on-One with Toshinori Hamada

Carlos Fittante sat down with Toshinori Hamada during Bali Tour 2010 to discuss his new piece “Sunda Upasunda-NYC Brothers” and its world premiere that just took place in the village of Kutuh, Bali on August 3. The story ballet, inspired from a Hindu myth that is often seen in Balinese dance performances, features an original score by the Semara Ratih Gamelan. Dancers Hamada and Carlos Fittante wear Baroque masks and Ratih Rismapurti performs the role of a Balinese dance maiden.

This is Hamada’s third collaboration with the Semara Ratih Gamelan. In 2005, he choreographed and performed a solo, Bali-Bolero and in 2007, he co-created the duet, KT Gamelan.

What did the process involve to present this new piece in Bali?

The process of collaborating in Bali was all about communication, scheduling and adjusting to jam karet or Bali time. The Semara Ratih is an amazing gamelan orchestra and I knew that what they created would be inspiring to me. The gamelan gave added breath, blood and vibration to the dance.

Before I arrived in Bali, I had an image in my mind of my piece. This image was shattered, when the reality hit of fitting it together with gamelan music in the short, speedy rehearsal process we had of about three days. This is a story ballet, and it was important for me, as the choreographer, to make sure the audience could understand the story and the message of the tale. For BALAM’s interpretation, I focused on the dangers of arrogance.

I also wanted the choreography to have a sculptural sense and for each moment to be a beautiful picture of epic beauty. Recently, I was at the Louvre Museum in Paris and was inspired by the myriad of classic statuary displayed there. My decision to use Baroque masks grew from those images of the statues that were dancing in my imagination.

I was amazed at the ability of the Semara Ratih Gamelan to create and play music that suited the traditional Japanese movements of my solo and Carlos Fittante’s Spanish dance inspired solo within the piece. I am thankful for this great challenge and experience and am happy at the good “campur” or mix.

Don't miss the next performance of “Sunda Upasunda-NYC Brothers" at the Sanur Dance Festival on August 7.