Amazing Rapa’i Dance

Amazing Rapa’i Dance, photo essay by Muhammad Hidayat

Rapa’i, dance an ethnic dance from Aceh, Indonesia, is characterized by the heavy use of a native tambourine, accompanied by pronounced head and body movements that follow various tempo. The performers are in costume as they play their instruments and sing along to the beat. Generally regarded as a symbol of the Aceh people, it represents cooperation, togetherness, and solidarity.

Initially, Rapa’i is exclusive to the Aceh society, but has eventually spread throughout the country, with many Indonesian schools including the dance in their curricula. It usually begins with a greeting from the performers, then comes the actual performance, and then ends with a formal sendoff. The rhythm has to be imbibed by those on-stage to keep the flow upbeat and maintain harmony not just within the group, but also the audience.

As a photographer, I capture specific elements of the performance, intending to bring out the spirit that embodies the dance, which moves each performer into perfect rhythm. Grit and emotions are highlighted to magnify the technicality involved and the harmony that binds all of the people on stage.

(by Muhammad Hidayat)