Modero in Philadelphia – Opening Night of the Bali to Bala

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A modero social circle was performed for the first time in Philadelphia at a kickoff event for a six-week celebration of Indonesian culture.

In Central Sulawesi, Pamonians form a dance circle, or modero, in celebration of weddings and other special occasions, including harvest times and New Year’s Eve.

Revelers join hands, alternately taking two steps to the right and one step back for infinite, break of dawn or until the music stop, whichever comes first.

Who would have thought a simple footwork pattern could be so much fun? It was easy to see how native Pamonians can dance for hours to the traditional instrumental music accented by a hypnotic drumbeat.

“When people hear about Indonesia, what they know is Bali and Java,” explains Sinta Penyami Hite, founder of Modero Dance Company named in honor of a dance that originated in her parents’ birthplace, the Central Sulawesi village of Poso.

“There are so many other different tribes. That’s the goal: to promote other cultures in Indonesia, especially Pamona because that’s where I’m from,” says Sinta, who teaches Bali dance infused with elements of other genres, including hip-hop and latin.

A major highlight for the themed event, “From Bali to Bala,” which ends Dec. 23, is a holiday sale of unique hand-crafted gifts, artwork, apparel and fashion accessories.

Sinta will lead an Indonesian Dance Class as part of Indonesia-themed events planned in the final days of the annual event, “From Bali to Bala,” which is also the name of the Indonesian gift and novelty shop on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. An hour-long lesson led by Hite, who started dancing at age 4, starts at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19. Adults and children are welcome; registration is $8, walk-ins accepted.

The shop’s owner, Dr. Laura Cohn, a former expatriate who lived in Indonesia, invites visitors to “experience the beautiful art of traditional dance by learning its basic postures and movements,” according to a schedule of events.

Cohn created “From Bali to Bala,” which has generated a loyal following of supporters. She sells her own artwork but also a wide selection of gifts, from driftwood candleholders, Wayang Goleg puppets, painted masks, batik paintings, Bali soap, volcanic pumice stones, stone carvings, colorful sarongs, ikat blankets and batik shirts, which are part of Indonesia’s national dress.

Cohn started selling crafts and other wares in her living room, gradually growing her business. Her showroom, opened four years ago in Chestnut Hill, is now filled with Indonesian crafts and art but strongly reminiscent of upscale home goods stores Pottery Barn and Pier One.

Stacks of New York Times newspapers lie behind the counter. But shelving fashioned from bamboo shoots provides a distinctive island touch.

During opening night, Cohn asked for blessings, that her show might be “more fruitful.”

Her annual show has generated a loyal following of supporters who shop for holiday gifts, or just come out to marvel at the rows and rows of books, musical instruments, art, and crafts that celebrate Indonesia’s rich history and exotic creatures in a region of the world where the Komodo Dragon and cobra freely roam and the common iguana really is just that.

For more information about Bali to Bala event please visit: http://frombalitobala.info/

–Written By Wilford Shamlin
—Edited by Sinta Penyami Hite

 

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