I arrived at the Yogyakarta (Jogjakarta) pavilion at Taman Mini Park in Jakarta, for the special Yogykarta dinner and classical dance performance not expecting too much. I had been invited, during my previous visit, to attend by Mr. (pak) Muhiddin Syachruddin, who works in the information office at Taman Mini. Often times these kinds of random invitations don’t turn out too well.
This time was different! Pak Muhiddin had promised me VIP seats, and he delivered way beyond expectations. It turned out that this was a special performance that several ambassadors would be attending. I was seated in the diplomatic section right behind the Ambassador of Pakistan. I was a little embarrassed for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not a diplomat – I was very happy nobody from the U.S. embassy was there! Second, I was called up on stage as an honored guest from the USA, right along with all the diplomats; I was wearing jeans and trainers, because my host had told me it was a causal event – everyone else was in more formal clothing.
Oh well, that aside, the evening was spectacular. After a very nice dinner that featured specialties from Jogjakarta such as Nasi Gudeg (rice served with boiled egg, chicken, tofu, and tempe cooked in a thick, sweet coconut sauce), and Kipo Kotagede (bite-size morsel made from coconut inside a tapioca dough), some very talented dancers performed three dances.
The Retno Asri Dance is a short introductory dance that is adopted from a variety of different movements from Yogyakarta classical dance. It tells the story of young girls growing up in a dynamic, high-spirited way.
The Beksan Menak Putri Dance
The inspiration for the movement for this dance came from Wayang Golek Menak Puppet Theater. It was created by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX. It’s a story of romance and power – a fight to the death in which Dewi (goddess) Adaninggar attempts and fails to kill her rival Dewi Kelaswara.
The Kumborokarno Leno (The Death of Kumbokarno)
The third episode of the four episode Ramayana Epic that tells the tale of a war between the leaders of two kingdoms – Rama and Rahwana. It ends with the tragic death of the exiled patriot and hero – Kumbakarna .
There are many special performances during the year at the various pavilions of Taman Mini. Their website has the current schedules. I really enjoyed this event and heartily recommend attending similar events – even without the VIP seating.