Following 2014 exciting dance performances and colourful costumes by the Dayaks Dancers from Borneo, in 2015 Bali Spirit Festival hosted a Borneo tent. It was there that I met David Metcalf, a masterclass photographer and author of the book “Looking for Borneo”, exhibiting 250 spectacular colour photos of Borneo. David is passionate about the Dayak people and has spent years exploring the outer reaches of one of the most ecologically diverse landscapes on the planet. He introduced me to a group of Dayak dancers directly from the jungles of Kalimantan: the Spirit of the Hornbill dance academy, 19 Dayak dancers flown in directly from the jungles of Kalimantan, Borneo.
Spirit of the Hornbill perform Dayak dance and music, and have prepared a workshop that is part of a program in tour to lift the Dayak cultural traditions through dance. I learned that the academy had been formed just over one year before by Siti Habibah from the Dayak Ngaju tribe, Central Kalimantan. They teach young children from the age of seven years about Dayak dance and culture and perform in regional competitions. In 2014 they represented Central Kalimantan against many dance groups from around Indonesia in Semerang, and the older members of the group have performed in Jakarta on two occasions and at the Bali Writers festival.
The spirit of the Hornbills dance academy was about to enter a new stage. The team of dance teachers will be heading out to the villages in Central Kalimantan to provide teaching to the Dayak children who currently receive no dance teaching at all. The idea is to give those kids some hope and to preserve their culture through dance. Borneo’s forests and culture is fast disappearing. One way to raise awareness is through cultural expression and dance, and communicating to people the importance of developing this art form.
Siti, the leader of the dance studio, is a very talented dancer and teacher and needs support to take her studio from its humble beginnings to the next level. They do not have any musical equipment so the children mostly aged between 6 and 12 have to dance to a CD. When they perform they have to hire a traditional musical instrument if they can afford it. Siti started her studio by saving for many months to raise the $500 required to pay for the rent on the studio for the following 12 months.
The objective is to buy the musical instrument they need, then dance uniforms, and other Dayak accessories to demonstrate and express their culture. You can read about Siti in David’s website: http://www.davidmetcalfphotography.com/siti-dayak-dancer/ . David’s objective is to help Siti achieve her dream, raise awareness about Dayak culture and pass on this aspect of Dayak culture to the younger generation, encouraging more young Dayaks to dance. If you wish to help, you can support Siti through Gofundme: https://www.gofundme.com/Sitis-Dream
Spirit of the Hornbill dance academy performance at the Bali Spirit Festival was great; they designed a special dance for the opening night, and were the chosen band to close the festival.
You can watch them on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlFFZaFaMlc
Read about David Metcalf movie, Long Sa’an, raising awareness about the plight of the forests and wildlife.
For great adventures in the Indonesian Kalimantan, check Central Borneo Guide by Yun, Siri’s sister.