Photo: Thomas Lehmen
As the hotel is close to the palace, I can walk for a change. Today, on Sunday, things should be a bit quieter in Solo; I even slept for a few hours at a time. But political parties campaign for the election by organizing parades with motorcycles across town. To judge from the noise, my first guess is a motorcycle race around the block.
The Prince receives me and, after a short time, I realize that you can only fool around with him in the morning. I immediately realize the Prince’s immense talent. His mimicry is comparable to any comedian in the world. The Prince becomes my friend and despite contradictory views I believe in him. My intuition proves right later on, as he is seriously interested in and supports the arts. I get background information from a staff and lecturer for traditional dance, Daryono, a real historian, who initiates me to a sensible handling of reconstructing historic palace dance.
In the evening, the Prince is more serious. Possibly he is exhausted by being a prince. He invites me to a big European-style theatre, where traditional performances take place every night. The audience smokes, watches, eats, chats, goes, comes, without anyone being annoyed. The Prince hints at a few necessary renovations. But I am not invited to admire its gloriousness. At dinner, the prince, who is visibly depressed, regrets the beginning loss of particularity in this cultural city, where people dance a lot.
I see this during rehearsal and public performances in the palace the other day. The gamelan orchestra deprives the few tourists and me of time. The dancers’ grace and beauty work on their own. After around 45 minutes of well structured dance, the dancers tear a knife and dance a dance of political assault, but keep smiling. Or they clearly warn to respect this beauty by all means.