Saturday March 16, 2013
Songs of Buble, Scorpions and Adele added to dikir barat
By A. RUBAN
KLANG: A local arts academy here has taken the traditional dikir barat to another level – performing popular chart-topping English songs.
“I want the world to know about this beautiful art, as it does not represent race or religion – it belongs to Malaysia and I want to make the country famous through this art,” said Arjunasukma academy founder Mohd Sulhie Yusuf, 36.
Songs they have performed included Michael Buble’s hit Sway, the Scorpions’ Winds of Change, Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain and the group’s own composition Beautiful Kelantan, a tribute to the state where the dikir barat comes from.
The songs are performed in typical dikir barat style – sitting cross-legged, chanting, clapping and swaying to the rhythmic beats provided by a percussion ensemble.
For traditional dikir barat, the lyrics or prose are spontaneously created by the tukang karut, touching upon everyday life and addressing social issues, politics and human foibles.
The tone can be satirical, sarcastic or humorous.
But when they perform in English, the Arjunasukma group stays strictly to the lyrics.
Mohd Sulhie said his team performed before university students at Beijing recently, providing crash courses over three days on the basic rudiments of dikir barat.
“The feedback was positive. The people there enjoyed it,” he said.
The academy, with about 50 performers and 12 staff members and workers, have also performed in Singapore and Thailand.
Mohd Sulhie said wherever they performed, the group also scouted for fresh talent.
“Our academy is mobile. We travel nationwide and get invited to schools and universities to train students.
“From there, we select the talented ones,” he said, adding that the group performed for shoppers and traders at the monthly arts bazaar in Dataran Merdeka and visitors to Taman Budaya in Kuala Lumpur.
A student from the academy, Nurul Fazli, 23, said he had been interested in dikir barat since he was a child and he used to attend performances whenever he could.
The student from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) joined the academy in 2002 and is now among the senior students teaching younger performers.