Ethnic dances poised for a revival

National 2 minutes, 20 seconds


A revival of ethnic dances in their purest form will feature at this year’s National Traditional Dance Competition for secondary schools.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Ak Eddyroyanto Pg Osman, one of the dance instructors and trainers for the competition, said the competition is ‘going back to the basics’ in terms of the authentic movements of the dances as there is now a refocus on ethnic dance with specific songs.

He was speaking during the closing ceremony of a traditional dance workshop organised by the Ministry of Education’s Department of Co-Curriculum Education recently.

“In previous competitions, the options for traditional dances were open, and there was the tendency for participants to make their movements creative (contemporary) in these dances.

“But now, we’re going back to the real basics of our roots and ethnic traditions as we focus on ethnic dance and only four songs,” he said.

He said the competition, which is scheduled to be held over April and May, will see students from secondary schools in the sultanate dance to four songs: _Tamaruk, Umak Ruma, Adai-adai _and Aduk-aduk which originated from the Dusun, Murut, Brunei-Malay and Kedayan ethnic groups respectively.

Also working as a teacher for Katok Secondary School, Ak Eddyroyanto, who has been involved in the field of traditional dance for many years, underscored the importance of ethnic dance in Brunei.

“It’s part of our many great traditions in Brunei. Ethnic dances are really quite beautiful and unique in their own ways. By learning the dances, we’re also learning about and giving respect to different cultures in Brunei.

“I can’t say that (performances of) our ethnic dances are decreasing. It’s just that the dances haven’t been given the chance to be centre-staged in public,” he said.

Ak Asmady Pg Sahdon, another dance instructor for the competition and a senior performer of Brunei’s traditional dances for eight years, told The Brunei Times that ethnic dance should be showcased in highlighting the rich multi-ethnic traditions that Brunei has.

“Nowadays, people are unaware of the existence of ethnic dances in Brunei even though they are the national legacy and heritage of the seven indigenous groups that we have in our country,” he said.

With the workshop and upcoming competition, he hopes that Brunei’s ethnic dances will gain the spotlight they deserve in ensuring their preservation in this era of modernisation.

“Hopefully more people will know about the authenticity of ethnic dances that we have in Brunei and not the ones that have been altered with contemporary or modern elements,” he said.

Both dance instructors are also hopeful that ethnic dances will continue to be showcased and highlighted, not only during competitions but also at any opportunity such as during functions or for tourism purposes.

The Brunei Times