Nan Jombang Premieres Rantau Berbisik (Whisperings of Exile) at REDCAT

Photo by: Fiona Cullen

Indonesian choreographer Ery Mefri does not speak English. His company Nan Jombang is in New York City the week before coming to Los Angeles, busily performing at Fall for Dance and at Asia Society. Both circumstances slim my chances of an interview. Fortunately, company manager Suzanne La is happy to answer my questions — and provide me with several of Mefri’s own reflections via email —  about his West Coast premiere of “Rantau Berbisik (Whisperings of Exile)” at REDCAT this Wednesday through Sunday (with the exception of Friday).

Mefri is a part of West Sumatra’s Minangkabau ethnic minority. He is very deliberate in exploring issues facing his society, like the ambivalence toward migration, or merantau, the traditional departure of young men from villages to establish themselves economically elsewhere. The guys often land in major Indonesian cities where Minangkabau cafes are popular. Around 80 percent of the men who leave Minangkabau villages never return. Mefri is an oddball. He was born in Solok and chose to settle in nearby Padang. But the nostalgia, longing, resentment, and loss this outmigration sparks remain on Mefri’s mind, and inspired this work.

“When people don’t come back, it hurts development and our ability to progress in West Sumatra,” Mefri says. …

Full article at Culture Spot LA

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