The story concerns Amir Hamzah, a historical individual--he was an uncle of the prophet Muhammad--whose life has been embroidered by a centuries-long line of storytellers stretching from ancient Persia through India and the Malay Peninsula, and finally to Java. The enduring attraction of this story has perhaps resided in its mixture of spiritual and romantic aspects. In this new Indonesian version, to be presented at Hill Auditorium on March 27, Amir Hamzah is a Sufi holy man whose compassionate nature attracts two Javanese princesses, Kelaswara and Adaninggar. As the story unfolds, the commonality between human and divine love emerges. The dancers will be accompanied by the U-M gamelan, the traditional Javanese orchestra of tuned gongs of different sizes.
"Love Flows" is intended by its presenters to exemplify the generally peaceful and positive aspect of Islam as it has existed in Indonesia, and that would be reason enough to go: this religion of one and a half billion adherents gets a bad rap in this country because of the actions of a very few evildoers. The dancing, if past performance is any guide, should be gorgeous. Beyond these points of interest are others that suggest why a number of people in our community have become permanently fascinated by Indonesia. One is the fact that Widaryanto, the creator of this Islamic dance drama, is Christian. The attentive viewer will notice plenty more.
[Originally published in March, 2011.]