Sekolah Seni Kuching does country proud

STATE PRIDE: Sluhi (fourth right, background) and Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagang (standing, second left) with the Sekolah Seni Kuching team members and officials upon their arrival at the Kuching International Airport last Wednesday night.

KUCHING: Borneo native dance and music have once again mesmerised the international community resulting in Sekolah Seni Kuching being declared the champion at the “International Folk Song and Dance Festival” in Batumi, Georgia.

The team of 15 Form 4 students thrashed teams from Poland, Turkey, Russia and Georgia for their first gold diploma awarded to the competition’s overall champion.

According to the team’s music coach Paka Siam, their grace and skills in the ‘mangunatip’ (bamboo dance), creative dance, sape and traditional Bidayuh music blew the international panel of judges away.

He explained that the team was divided into two groups of 12 students to perform a creative dance and the ‘mangunatip’ while three others played a traditional Orang Ulu number entitled ‘leleng’ and a Bidayuh song called ‘bang kidibang bulem’.

“The competition was quite tough because most of team members are fairly established dance and music groups. However, the students skills in the unique bamboo dance and our local native music really shocked and amazed them because they have not seen anything like it,” he said at Kuching International Airport (KIA) on Wednesday night.

He added that the team went through months of training including two weeks of intensive training before the competition.

“The ‘mangunatip’ dance involves lots of footwork and technical skills. The team trained about three to four hours daily to perfect their moves with me and their dance coach Yusof Bujang and Halina Lim,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sekolah Seni Kuching principal Dr Sluhi Lamat who was also at KIA said that this is the school’s second competitive international outing following their first trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia where they won a silver diploma (second place) for their Iban Ngajat performance.

“The main purpose of the school is to expose the beauty of our culture and tradition to the world. I believe through our success in Georgia, we are moving towards our goal in keeping our culture alive,” he said.

The beaming school principal added that the school’s cultural group had been contributing much in arts and cultural enrichment through their active performances in national and state-level events.

The ‘International Folklore Festival’ competition was held from June 7 to 11.

Sekolah Seni Kuching’s participation in the festival was supported by the federal Ministry of Tourism and the State Education Department.

It was organised by the folk festivals organisation ‘Kvali Nateli XXI’ with the support of the municipality of Batumi, Georgia.

According to the festival’s official website, the purpose of the organisation is to develop and preserve art and culture around the globe.

This year’s second place winner is Russia, followed by Poland, Turkey and Georgia.