Their Stories

Fiona Gaske’s Ballet Experience in Indonesia

12 June 2019

Prior to our International block and travelling to the Archipelago, I saw a Facebook post about a very talented ballerina from Indonesia. The story explained that the ballerina came from a family who would not normally have the means to pay for ballet classes but was given a rare opportunity to study the art form, ultimately demonstrating considerable talent and a bright future dancing. This prompted me to consider what I could potentially do for other children of a similar background while away on our Indonesia block for ARLP.

As is often the case when teaching or sharing, I received so much more than I gave one warm afternoon in Bandar Lampung, where this vision actually became a reality. Working with our amazing Indonesian contacts, we were able to construct an afternoon where 15 children who had never attended a dance class before practiced pliés and tendus and heard the music of the great classical ballet composers such as Delibes and Tchaikovsky.

Of course, having articulated the original idea to Director Graham Smith, and sound boarding the idea with the lovely Jola Bakker from our cohort, and then having made some preliminary arrangements with Nina and Nadaa in Lampung, I finally sat back and wondered how this was actually going to happen. How was I going to get to the venue? How will I order a cab in Indonesian? Will they have a speaker? Actually, how will I even be able to teach given I don’t speak Bahasar! 

Critically, what I learned as a result of that experience, was that I don’t need to have total control of every detail of every situation. We had a combined vision to share an opportunity with the children, and for that reason, the ‘small stuff’ sorted itself out. The people we met there had such composure. They were patient, polite, generous and very humble. Together we had a very memorable afternoon.

I felt completely supported by some very thoughtful members of the cohort who came with me: Jola, who introduced the children to contemporary dance, Bec, Emma J, Emma T, Lauren M and the wonderful Febrina who became my assistant teacher for the afternoon. I will be forever grateful to my sponsors, Tim and Gina Fairfax and the ARLF for this amazing opportunity. It is one that I will cherish for years to come because I could truly lean into my values and provide these children with another opportunity to participate in the performing arts.