Eight Australian students from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are learning the traditional Acehnese Saman dance under a summer program held on July 2-10, at the University of Surabaya (Ubaya) in Surabaya, East Java.
Interviewed at the Law Faculty of Ubaya on Tuesday, Eleni Alexandra Grady, one of the participants of the summer program, stated that she and her group found Saman dance quite entertaining, and its music has a calming effect.
"We faced difficulty in concentrating due to the hot weather, but overall, it is fun," she noted.
Grady has joined the summer program in Ubaya along with seven other QUT students: Susan Connor, Lucy Victoria Irvine, Katie Trinh, Brittanny Margaret White, Scott David Usher, Kelvin Kumar Poptan, and Kenneth Lee.
Grady also plans to continue practicing Saman dance, as she wants to perform it in Australia.
According to Ubayas International Cooperation Manager, Adi Teja Kusuma, the main objective behind holding the QUT summer program in Ubaya is to gain a deeper insight about Indonesia.
However, Ubaya also offers them some cultural activities, including imparting training in dance, language, and culinary skills.
During the course of the program, the participants visited Surabayas heritage buildings, such as the House of Sampoerna Museum and Hotel Oranye.
Saman dance was chosen on the request of QUT, which urged them to introduce the Indonesian culture to the summer programs participants through group activities.
The Saman dance, which literally means the dance of thousand hands, is part of the cultural heritage of the Gayo people of Aceh province in Sumatra. Boys and young men perform Saman dance while sitting on their heels or kneeling in tight rows. Each wears a black costume embroidered with colorful Gayo motifs symbolizing nature and noble values.
The Saman dance was inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO in 2011. (Antara)