I am interested in tracing customs and traditions to everyday movement, body, and perhaps, beauty in a contemporary context. In this movement research, I am curious about the relationship between my body archive of Malay dance and the Merenjis (sprinkling) symbolic gestures.
Merenjis refers to a blessing ceremony for newlyweds that used to be a common and symbolic practice in traditional Malay weddings. It is also a Malay word that describes a sprinkling gesture. Important guests and family members are invited up to the wedding dais to bless the newlyweds. These sprinkling gestures are symbolic of providing spiritual protection for the newlyweds. Using my body as a starting point, I pay attention to the motivations behind and bodily sensations of sprinkling.
Findings from my movement explorations, I have noted some discoveries in relation to:
Emotions: Sense of fulfilment in extending the infinity motif embodied when doing the ‘keluk paku’ movement. This is done by using the silver ‘bunga manggar’ material as a prosthetic extension of sprinkling a blessing.
Visuals: By using drawings and mapping the energy line, I observed the infinity motif embedded in the ‘keluk paku’ to highlight the minute wrist rotations.
Audio: Sounds from the brushing of the tinsel paper of the silver ‘bunga manggar’.
Physicality: There is resistance from the energy of bunga manggar even though it gives out a comical brushing sensation. But eventually the body and hands radiate into a machinery language.
Materiality: Juxtaposing the sprinkling with hands and using the tinsel paper. Natural versus man-made.
Excerpt of Selamat Pengantin Baru (Happy Newlyweds). Watch the choreography of Merenjis with stylized Joget movement here.
NORHAIZAD ADAM is a Malay dancer, dance artist, and performance maker who was born, raised, and currently living in Singapura. His work talks about morality and behaviorism in the Malay Culture, within the context of post-colonialism and socio-political change. Currently, he is the Artistic Director of P7:1SMA, a dance performance company that radically shifts the perspective of Malay and dance through intimate and innovative performance experiences. He has presented his work in Italy (Venice International Performance Art week), Australia (Mapping Melbourne), Taipei (Asia Discovers Asia Meeting), France (Paris Summer Academy), Austria (ImPulsTanz), Indonesia (NuArt), and notable events in Singapura.