Gesek-Gosok by ASWARA Work Placement Students

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Two students from the second year of the degree program at ASWARA, Malaysia’s national arts university, spent a month as work placement students at Rimbun Dahan as part of the requirements for their course.

Sufinah Abu Bakar and Shafirul Azmi were linked with the dance programme at Rimbun Dahan from 14 Dec to 8 January. During their time at Rimbun Dahan, they worked on several new dance works, including one for a book launch by the Centre of Orang Asli Affairs and another to ring in the New Year.

Gesek-Gosok was performed on New Year’s Eve in and around the reflective pool at Rimbun Dahan. To Indochine-themed music, the group of seven dancers from ASWARA and Balletbase paraded with parasols, lowered themselves into water troughs, and paddled serenely through the waterlilies, to the great delight of the onlookers. Photographs below by Akshay Sateesh.

Sufinah binti Abu Bakar, now 24, was born in Kuala Lumpur and is currently living in Sungai Buloh. A second year student in the Bachelor of Dance program at ASWARA, Sufinah has been trained in classical Malay dance as well as Chinese dance, Bharatanatyam, folk dance, ballet, contemporary and modern. She has worked with local choreographers such as Joseph Gonzales, Umesh Shetty, Zhou Gui Xin, A. Aris A. Kadir, Shafirul Azmi, Choo Tee Kuang, Loke Soke Kim, and Gan Chih Pei. She has danced in various local ASWARA performances including Jamu, Stepping Out, Langkah, traditional Mak Yong theatre, Randai, Bangsawan, the dance drama Huminodun and Asyik. Sufinah has performed in the musicals Puteri Gunung Ledang, Rubiah and Ibu Zain, and has also performed overseas in ASWARA collaborations in Singapore, with RTM in Brunei, Festival Tari Nusantara in Palembang, Indonesia, and the 6th and 8th Asian Art Festivals in Beijing. Sufinah’s television work includes video clips for Hafiz AF7 and Pisau Cukur, commercials for Mummy Slrpp and BOH Tea, and RTM and TV3 programs.

Originally from Sabah, Shafirul Azmi bin Suhaimi began his career in art when he was 18 years old, as a cultural artist for Lembaga Kebudayaan Negeri Sabah (1998) and Badan Kesenian Negeri Kedah (1999). After receiving his diploma in choreography from ASWARA, Shafirul choreographed for Badan Kesenian Negeri Kedah in 2005 and Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya before continuing his studies at ASWARA for his Bachelors. Shafirul in currently a lecturer at ASWARA as well as a dance artist in the local industry. He has been involved in many contemporary performances including Gerak Angin (Sutra Dance Theatre), Jamming The Box (Nyoba Kan and The Actors Studio), Curfew (Five Arts Center), Spring In Kuala Lumpur (Japan Foundation), AWAS (ASWARA) and The Light Show (Annexe Central Market). His musical work includes Ronggeng Rokiah, ANTARA, P. Ramlee, Kasih Menanti and Tun Abdul Razak at Istana Budaya, and TUNKU at KLPac. His own choreographic works are IBN, Let’s Swim, Kabur, Tabung Uji, Niaki, Pipit, Hari+Hari, Escape, Typhoon, Transporter, Shakti, Tapak 4 and Cik Mah. Shafirul is always looking for unusual ideas for traditional-based art works, and favours productions with a collaborative element.