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Wan-Chao Chang (Fremont) collaborating with Gadung Kasturi Balinese Dance and Music (Richmond)

Award: $40,000 Traditional Arts Grant awarded in 2009

Premiered: October 16 and 17, 2010, Cowell Theater, San Francisco

Dancer and choreographer Wan-Chao Chang collaborated with Gadung Kasturi Balinese Dance and Music (Gadung Kasturi) to create a new 30-minute dance performance that drew upon classical and contemporary dance—primarily in Chinese and Indonesian traditions—and that incorporated original and live music on Chinese percussion instruments and Indonesian gamelan. Participating groups were Hei Gu (Chinese Percussion) led by Jason Jong, Wan Chao Dance, and Gadung Kasturi Balinese Dance led by Kompiang Metri Davies.

“Keep Her Safe Please!” explored the ethnic tension and violence between Chinese and Indonesians that resulted in the Jakarta riots of 1998. Due to this upheaval, Wan-Chao Chang’s parents immigrated to Taiwan from Indonesia in the 1960s. By the late 1990s, Chinese people in Indonesia, especially women, were being raped and killed in unknown numbers. Wan-Chao Chang’s family received numerous letters from friends, begging them to take their daughters away from Indonesia and protect them. This cross-cultural performance drew upon these heartbreaking stories.

Wan-Chao Chang, founder and artistic director of Wan-Chao Dance, was born in Taiwan, where she trained in traditional Chinese and Western dance and music. Upon arriving in San Francisco in 1995, she taught and performed as a principal for the Chinese Folk Dance Association. In the 1990s, she began studying Indonesian dance, and, in 1996, joined Harsanari Indonesian Dance Company. Kompiang Metri-Davies performed with Gamelan Sekar Jaya and Lestari Indonesia before forming Gadung Kasturi in 2007.

Photo credit: Brad Dosland, Taboo Media