Q&A: Fast Five with Senyawa

Strange image of opened hands behind head
Attractor. Credit: Brisbane Festival

Jogjarkarta’s Senyawa is a reinvention of traditional Javanese dance, combined with enthralling and raw experimental music and vocals. It offers a wildly unique experience, where electrifying connections meld time and tradition, culture and boundaries, and even performer and audience.

Peril Arts Editor, Magdalene H. speaks with Senyawa vocalist, Rully Shabara, and instrumentalist, Wukir Suryadi about the production’s dynamics, the audience experience, highlights and challenges, and more.

Magdalene H: Senyawa’s performance has been described as a ‘reinterpretation of the Javanese tradition of entering into trance through music and movement’. Can you tell us about the challenges and highlights of recreating this concept through choreographed production?

 Wukir: The challenge is how to immerse our music within the movements and choreography so we need a high concentration and totality in order to present sounds in exact time.

Rully: The movements and sounds have to be totally in sync, in terms of energy. That’s why we did many intensive rehearsals beforehand, also to get to know each other’s characters really well.


M: Attractor is said to transcend beyond the stage, into audience, with attendees offered an opportunity to be directly included in the performance itself. Can you tell us more about this?

 W: For me, this aspect is very interesting because it blurs boundaries between audience and performers.

R: The experience for audience members who take part in this process is really amazing, being in the middle of all the chaos, harmony, and eruption of sounds. The use of technology provided by our tech guys is also very helpful!


M: Do you find that audiences from different cultures react differently to the performance ?

W: Each audience member has a different cultural background, and in turn has their own character. Using totality, sincere energy, and showmanship, I think those cultures can be blended in Attractor, because in essence I think all humans are the same.

R: Of course, people react differently to the performance depending on the venue, atmosphere, stage and sound system. But as performers, it is our job to make sure each performance, wherever it is, has the impact we want.


M: What are the highlights and challenges of performing in this style of production?

W:The highlights are to continually improve self-capacity and creative ability, while the ongoing challenge is to work together – really well – in order to produce a successful show.

R: The highlight is experiencing the amazing feeling of creating an extraordinary mix of sound and movement. The challenge is to maintain a high level of focus at all times, to ensure timings are not out of sync.


M: Attractor will feature as part of this year’s Brisbane Festival, where to for you, personally, after that?

W: For me, I’m planning to keep sharpening my musical instinct and restrain myself, so I can keep releasing sounds in the right time.

R: We hope Attractor will catch more and more attention globally, so we can keep presenting it better each time.

Magdalene H

Author: Magdalene H

Magdalene is Romanian-Vietnamese, grew up in Australia, and is currently living on the Arabian Peninsula. She holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism, and is undertaking post graduate studies in Business, with a double specialization in International Business and Professional Communication. Magdalene also enjoys curating and contributing to several blogs, while navigating expatriatism, and parenting in the third-culture.