KUTAI TIMUR – Indonesia is a country rich in art and culture, such as traditional dance. Each province has its unique dance that has different movements and philosophies. One of these is the Jepen dance, which is unique to Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan, and heavily influenced by Malay and Islamic culture.
The movements in Jepen dance are dynamic, attractive, energetic, and simple, with a strong Malay nuance. During the performance, dancers wear a combination of Malay and Islamic clothing and traditional Indonesian clothing. With minimal makeup, the dancers still look graceful. The dancers also use a scarf as a dance prop during the dance.
Jepen dance is accompanied by Tingkilan music, a traditional music art form from Kutai, East Kalimantan. Several musical instruments are used in Tingkilan music, including the gambus, ketipung, kendang, and violin. In addition, it is accompanied by singing called “bertingkilan,” which means echoing each other.
Khafiliah (49), a Jepen dance instructor at the Lestari Budaya Dance Studio in Muara Bengkal District, Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan, said that young people in the area are enthusiastic about learning Jepen dance. It is shown by the number of students registered at the dance studio, which has reached 50 people, consisting of elementary, junior high, high school, and college students.
However, Khafiliah stated that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, activities at the Lestari Budaya Dance Studio were temporarily halted since the beginning of 2020. Only when COVID-19 cases began to decline did Jepen dance training activities resume in July 2022. It was done in preparation for art performances and other activities at the district level that will be held at the end of 2022.
“We are preparing for the end-of-year event, which usually has a theme related to agriculture and is held in every district,” said Khafiliah, who is also an art and culture teacher at SD Muara Bengkal, during a meeting with the Corporate Communications team of PT Teladan Prima Agro Tbk (TLDN) some time ago.
The enthusiasm for Jepen dance performances is welcomed by Mitaliana (20), a college student who has been a member of the Lestari Budaya Dance Studio since 16 years old. In addition to filling her leisure time, she pursued Jepen dance to preserve the traditional dance of her homeland.
“This (Jepen dance) is my hobby because it is a characteristic of Kutai that can be preserved and introduced to younger siblings so that Jepen can continue to be known and not disappear due to the development of the times,” said Mita.
As a form of support for traditional arts in the surrounding operational area, PT Teladan Prima Agro Tbk (TLDN) is committed to supporting Jepen dance activities at the Lestari Budaya Dance Studio by contributing to the provision of facilities and infrastructure to support the studio’s activities, including costumes and several costume-making machines