What’s after Dasawarsa?

In our debrief after we wrapped up the final show, I said that NUANSA Dasawarsa was a success because it stood on the eight NUANSAs that preceded it: it’s the culmination of ten years of legacy.

But what of NUANSA 2018? What does it stand on? Or will it even exist? What comes after Dasawarsa? These were the questions that haunted us for some time leading up to the show day in March 2017. Admittedly, we sensed that PINUSians had a growing disinterest to join NUANSA yet an ever-growing interest to know all about its fate.

Fast forward by 8 months: we now have 3 freshmen taking the lead for NUANSA 2018 in the first-ever partnership with an external organization, Singapore Minang Association (SMA). How did this come about? Why freshies as Producers? Are Dasawarsa Producers still involved? When I was approached by MANUSIA, I thought this would be an ideal platform to share some thoughts on the topic.

This is for all of you who still feel a sense of attachment to NUANSA, be it love, hate, passion, meh, regrets, or a mix of everything. This is to fill in the blanks – what has been happening since Dasawarsa till now? This is for all of you who are curious, scared to overcommit and fall into the NUANSA trap again, but still have that little nudge inside you to find out if you could ever contribute again, no matter how small. On top of that, this is also my reflection as one of NUANSA’s former producers.

Let’s rewind the story a little bit. NUANSA Dasawarsa was the first NUANSA in which the Producers worked with 3 PINUS presidents –we were elected by the 2015 President, coordinated the project during the full term of the 2016 President, and are currently working alongside the current president on the handover process. This was also the first NUANSA with the most number of alumni contributing back in various forms, hence enabling us to do much more:  workshops, concert, exhibition, recording on top of the signature musical.

 

Has this decade-long legacy become a shackle?

 

It was fun and immensely rewarding, but it also tells you about the scale, intensity, and complexity. Add that to the already high stress level of NUANSA, the sheer number of parties involved, and the occasional jadedness as the journey became more arduous from time to time. Has this decade-long legacy become a shackle? Could we simply brush off the fear of ‘not living up to expectations’ by telling the juniors that “you can do it, it’s been done before.” Will the usual ‘it’s not easy, but it’s gonna be worth it in the end’ still work on the new generation?

This. In all these years, people often question the essence of NUANSA. What are we doing this for? Is it even necessary? Is this not just a battle of pride between Indonesian societies in Singapore? Do we really have to make it so taxing for the members?

To answer that, perhaps we should refer back to NUANSA’s vision:

  • Showcasing the richness and diversity of Indonesian cultures
  • Nurturing the talents of PINUSians by providing a platform to experience and appreciate Indonesian culture

Sure, it could be worded differently from year to year, but that’s essentially it, isn’t it? What I like about it is that it’s deliberately crafted to be broad enough to give future generations rooms for creative interpretation. At the same time, it’s specific enough to give the community a sense of direction and focus. So, who says NUANSA should only exist as a musical? It could be an exhibition, a simple dance performance, or even a performing arts workshop held by a Professional for fellow PINUSians. The sky is the limit.

So, why are people so reluctant to make the change? Well, for one, following the status quo is always easier. There are already past references for a musical. Also, there is this (unnecessary? irrational?) fear of disappointing the ‘loyal’ NUANSA audience – “what if they don’t like it? Am I going to be the one who break the legacy?”

After back and forth discussions and gathering ground sentiments from alumni, past NUANSA members, and PINUS Presidents, we came to the conclusion that this – the 11th year of NUANSA – could be the perfect time to make the change, after we sweetly concluded the decade through the Dasawarsa project.

It’s time to start afresh.

So we teamed up with the PINUS presidents to scout for NUANSA 2018 Producers. This also aligns with the current PINUS Presidents’ vision of encouraging more ground up initiatives. We were on fire to spread the message that NUANSA 2018 can exist in any form you imagine, as long as it still promotes Indonesian culture.

Alas, our efforts were to no avail.

Hmm. Should NUANSA go on hiatus until someone stepped up? Honestly, we don’t mind that either. Going by NUANSA’s Vision #2, if no one has the interest, then why force it? What are we doing it for? It’s okay to let the giant sleep. To let the community recharge before we make magic happen again. I thought, would the next NUANSA be the second Dasawarsa in 2027? And will the 2017 team come back again?

Just when we let that scenario sink in – that there won’t be any NUANSA in the short run – suddenly we were approached via Facebook message by Mas Ade from Singapore Minang Assocation.

He was looking for a partner to produce a performance based on Minang culture. We met with him several times to discuss the possible collaboration. We shared with him the current state of NUANSA and the fact that we, the former Producers, won’t be the one executing the project if we agree to move ahead with the collaboration. To our surprise, he responded positively and was not deterred by the complexity of the situation.

At that time, we saw in him a glimpse of what our future (myself and the other producers’) might be. A successful Vice President in one of the banks in Singapore with a deep and burning passion to preserve and promote Minang culture, devoting whatever extra time he has left after work to pursue his cause and passion projects. His passion for culture resonated well with us, even somewhat inspiring.

With a renewed hope, we got back to work again. We laid out the groundwork and the ways we can collaborate on this project that we hope to be NUANSA 2018. The idea is that SMA can be a partner, NUANSA Dasawarsa’s Producers and PINUS Presidents can be the collective advisors, and we’ll find current students to lead. We pursued this because as we ran ‘interviews’ for NUANSA 2018, quite a sizable number of students (to our surprise, the freshmen) were deeply interested. It would be a pity if we can’t create the platform for them to nurture this passion.

So far, we have recruited our 3 Heads, each leading a department (Artistic, Production, and External Affairs) and working together to put up NUANSA 2018. Depending on the resources they can get, they have the freedom to experiment with the organizational structure and the production format. Our role as the last outgoing producers is to bridge the gap in the know-hows about NUANSA and the legacy itself, as and when required.

Thus, is this a “freshie project”? Well, not necessarily. While most of the members are freshies, seniors and alumni are welcome to join as well in whatever capacity they might have. In fact, before we proceeded with the handover, we organized a get-together for our 3 leaders and some alumni for an introduction and knowledge-sharing session. It was touching to see many alumni coming back to support, and to see the freshies eagerly asking questions about NUANSA. Despite the almost-up-to-7-year gap between them, we quickly became comfortable with each other as we realized that we shared the same passion about Indonesian culture.

 

Our passion and the collective experience etched in our minds is the legacy.

 

More than anything, this, I believe, is the very legacy that should be passed on. Not the musical as a production, but the people as a family, continuously learning from one another, passing on their experiences, expertise, and most importantly, passion – for Indonesia, for its culture and heritage, doing something together, something magical, with your fellow Indonesians, a passion to believe in your dreams and pursue them relentlessly. Our passion and the collective experience etched in our minds is the legacy.

While the production only lasts for a year, the passion lives on, if not burning then dormant, but ever ready to be ignited. And what would warm my heart is if one day in the future, our paths cross again and we would each be doing amazing things for Indonesia and to say “my NUANSA experience inspired me to do this”.

So that’s my story of NUANSA 2018. What will they produce this time? It’s their story to tell. Be it the signature musical, a concert, or any other format, we are more than happy to give them our fullest support as NUANSA continues to innovate.

*Disclaimer: This is not at all a sales pitch for you to join NUANSA, but if ever you’re interested to contribute and you’re an oldie and don’t know these freshies, feel free to drop me a message 🙂

 


Nathania Christy was the Co-Producer of NUANSA Dasawarsa. She was also part of the main cast of NUANSA 2014 and a songwriter for NUANSA 2015.

Featured image courtesy of NUANSA Cultural Productions. © 2017 NUANSA

Interested in writing? Have a story to share? Contact us at pinusmanusia@gmail.com

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