Rhythmix Cultural Works held two sold-out shows on December 4 and 5 as two Oakland-based groups came together for the world premiere of a blend of Balinese and hip-hop dance, music and spoken word.
Gamelan Sekar Jaya, which includes about 50 musicians playing instruments such as gongs, drums, flutes and metallophones, was led by I Made Arnawa (top photo, right). The group presented several original instrumental compositions by their guest music director and two numbers from “Legong,” a traditional palace dance.
In the second part of the show, Emiko Saraswati Susilo — guest dance director of GSJ — and Rashidi Omari — artistic director of Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company presented “Tjak Box,” (second photo, standing center). This new work merged hip-hop and urban dance with Balinese dance and gamelan music. The inspiration for the piece was the story of Kunti and Karna in the Nahabarata, a great Hindu epic.
“Tjak Box” came after several other performances by Destiny Arts that included poems, or monologues, performed by teens in the program. The spoken word part of the presentation highlighted themes like teenage insecurity, loss of innocence, violence, environmental issues, peer pressure and personal growth.
In much of the second half, Destiny Arts and GSJ performers worked together to demonstrate how different cultures communicate both physically and emotionally and how these cultures, when combined, create a mesmerizing mix of ethnicity, talent, music and movement that dramatically conveys a message of empowerment and hope.
The audience was clearly moved by the unique performance on December 4 and gave the groups a standing ovation.
Rhythmix, located at 2513 Blanding Avenue, will host a show put on by students now taking classes at its facilities at 7 p.m. on December 11. And each Wednesday its K Gallery is open from 6 to 9 p.m.