Saving the Spirit of Borneo – One Dance at a Time

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Native to Borneo, the Dayak people are a race comprising of numerous ethnic subgroups from across the largest island in Asia. Richly diverse in dialects, customs, laws and culture, one important element of their fascinating history is the Dayak Hornbill Dance, aptly named after the large beaked bird which holds significance and symbolism for the Dayaks.

Sadly, as time passes and modern day life tends to encroach on and occasionally eliminate some age old traditions, culturally rich elements of the past can be forgotten. In an effort to keep valuable traditions such as this Dayak dance alive among emerging generations of her people, Siti Habibah a young dance teacher from the Ngaju Tribe of Central Kalimantan opened The Spirit of the Hornbill Dance Academy a little over a year ago. Her chief intentions were to teach the skills she had learned as a dancer to younger generations, foster an understanding and enjoyment of Dayak traditions among youth and preserve this culture through music and dance!

Of course, ventures such as these can be costly and with little financial support, it is a constant battle for Siti and her team of teachers (most of whom are volunteers) at the Academy to meet rent and mounting costs of tuition.  Volunteers from the academy venture into the villages in the area twice a week, giving children an opportunity to learn dance and play traditional musical instruments, reconnecting them with their cultural origins. Despite many parents being unable to pay for this tuition due to financial hardship, teachers at the academy never deny any of these children the opportunity to participate. Increased funding will enable the program to expand further into more villages around Palangkaraya.

Following on from their successful fundraising efforts to help fight the fires in Central Kalimantan last year, Finns Recreation Club is hosting another fundraiser, “Spirit of Borneo” on Sunday June 26th, this time to raise money to help Siti and The Spirit of the Hornbill Academy of Dance keep traditional Dayak culture alive.

Bring your friends and family and be prepared for a memorable evening rich in dance, music, storytelling and song. The event begins at 5pm with Dayak music and a dance workshop where Siti and Yadi, the head instructors at the academy will guide participants through the elements of this intriguing dance! From 6pm guests will enjoy a dance performance, Dayak music and storytelling followed by a screening of the documentary, ‘Long Sa’an – The Journey Back’ from 7pm. This fascinating film traces the journey of seven Dayak people from North Kalimantan back to Long Sa’an, their ancestral village deep in the heart of a forest that is racing to keep ahead of the threat of potential destruction.

After the film, raffles and auction action will commence from 8pm. There will also be a Dayak Market Stand for the chance to purchase your very own authentic Dayak handicrafts, bags, music and art.

Entry to the Spirit of Borneo fundraiser is free of charge, however a small donation of Rp 50,000 would be gratefully appreciated. An educating and culturally enriching evening, it’s an opportunity to learn about and help preserve the valuable elements of another culture. All proceeds from the evening will go towards maintaining and developing the Spirit of the Hornbill Dance Academy Program.

Mark Sunday June 26th into your diaries for the chance to inject a little culture into your holiday entertainment and come and experience the joy of dance at Finns Recreation Club. Make an evening of it with family and enjoy dinner at Bistro C while you are there! For table reservations email:

bistroc@finnsrecclub.com

Bistro C. Open to the Public from 5pm Daily.
Located at Finns Recreation Club. Jalan Finns Recreation Club, Canggu.