Often regarded as the much-awaited finale for a half-day trip to the Sarawak Cultural Village, this award-winning cultural performance is staged by literally all major ethnic groups of Sarawak. The show will take about an hour from start to finish. It is held twice daily at the village's mini theatre which is located close to the main entrance.
For the morning session, there will be a performance at 1100hrs, while for the afternoon session, the performance will be held at 1400hrs.
The stage is beautifully set in a brilliant ethnic musical theme of bamboo poles, thatched huts and exquisite traditional arts. Added to that are a number of musicians in the background playing exotic musical equipment such as sape, gong, rebana, wooden guitars and even accordion.
Soon, a prologue of traditional Malay dance ensued, followed by a casting ensemble of the much-revered Puteri Santubong number which I always find interesting. There were two raised platforms on both sides of the stage where the customary Puteri Santubong and Puteri Sejinjang danced their hearts out while narrating the legendary story of these two beautiful princesses.
The stage went dark for a moment before an Iban warrior made his lone appearance. While it was hard to gauge what the dance performance of Ngajat Lesong (or mortar dance) was all about, the Iban warrior unexpectedly bent down to pick up the lesong (wooden mortar) with his bare teeth! He did that for almost one minute, leaving the crowd awe-struck. Soon an exquisitely-dressed Iban lady came on stage performing a traditional Iban dance.
Time for lighter performance. On stage came a dance ensemble from the Orang Ulu tribe, with the men dressed up in a peculiar fashion of colourful long skirt (the Scottish equivalent of a kilt I suppose). The name of this dance is Jatun Dulud, which is a welcoming ritual to guests to their longhouses.
Then came on-stage are the dance members from the Melanau tribe. As I mentioned previously that ethnic Melanau is somewhat related to ethnic Malay. This was clearly reflected in their costumes which uncannily resembled a set of baju melayu and baju kurung. Colourful and beautiful. They started off with Tarian Menyak which is a traditional dance for sago making (the male dancers would stamp the bamboo poles to the ground as if to replicate the process of grinding the sago bits to pieces). Then came Tarian Alu Alu which purpose, interestingly, was to comfort the family during a funeral. Comforting was probably quite an understatement if you were able to see what these performers did with the bamboo poles. It was more like an acrobatic dance where a male dancer will climb up to the tip of the pole and laid down on his stomach while making spectacular circular motion. Not to mention a jaw-dropping summersault move over the bamboo poles.
Next in line was a performance by a Penan warrior in a solo act called Kanjet Ngeleput. On his hand was a poisonous dart use for animal hunting. He even demonstrated, not once but twice, his shooting skill by deftly shooting the balloons on the far corner section of the audience section. Naturally, there were oohs and aahs from the crowds. To added some spice to the solo act, he even called up a lady from the audience whom he taught how to shoot.
Now, almost to the closing act. The Malay dancers took up the stage again, performing various traditional upbeat dance numbers such as Senandong Sarawak (a combination of Tarian Dayang Sari followed by the evergreen Tarian Joget Melayu), Tarian Royong and Tarian Serampang Baru.
As a finale, the host invited any willing audience members to come to the stage to dance with all the performers before wrapping up the wonderful afternoon show.
Exquisite and colourful. A must-see when in Sarawak Cultural Village.