He tickled, he danced, he won audiences' hearts

  • Arts
  • Friday, 25 Sep 2015

Pak Pandir and dancers strutting their stuff on stage. Photos: The Star/Azhar Mahfof

Street dancing in Istana Budaya?

Yup, Kuala Lumpur’s premier theatre venue scored a first with the staging of Pak Pandir Yo!, a unique full-length dance production On Sept 20.

Part of the ongoing DiverseCity: Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival 2015, the edgy production was a welcome change from the usual endeavours by the creative community.

Using some of Malaysia’s best male and female street dancers, choreographer Alam Wakaka’s work was both innovative and promising.

Since he won the first So You Think You Can Dance competition in 2007 and Showdown in 2010, Alam has been creating ripples in the local street-dancing scene. Pak Pandir Yo! is his biggest production to date, and one he is extremely proud of.

Pak Pandir (portrayed by Mat Redho, the winner of Astro’s Fear Factor Malaysia 2013), the clownish sidekick of Malay folk stories, is given an urban twist with an edge in this effort.

The plot is simple. Pak Pandir is sent to buy vegetables at the local market but ends up with a kuali (wok) and two bus tickets to Kuala Lumpur. Together with his rotund wife Mak Andih (played by Indonesian comedian Refika Noviati Faturohman aka Vicha SayWho), Pak Pandir leaves the village to experience the bright city lights.

Pak Pandir (Mat Redho) was easy to fall in love, and so was Mak Andih (Vicha SayWho).</p><p>
Pak Pandir (Mat Redho) was easy to fall in love, and so was Mak Andih (Vicha SayWho).

Alam weaved hip-hop, break dance, waacking, robotic techniques and bar patterns with a Malaysian flavour to tell the story. Add in bits of lyrical dance, kung fu, contemporary dance and poco poco (line dance), and you have a smorgasbord of sorts.

From the word go, the dancers blasted on to the stage with such a huge presence, it was immensely enjoyable. For a large group of dancers (a total of 30), they were pretty synchronised in their moves, with some nice breaking and attitude from the performers.

They were sharp and extremely in tune with one another; it was a delight to watch. The girls laced willowy poses with toughness while the men’s stomps, backflips and headspins looked fun and infectious. It was an unearthly blend of lightness and weight. The young ones in the audience probably found themselves considering street dance classes.

One of the highlights was probably the segment where the dancers were strapped in LED suits to reflect the night scene and to provide visual bling. The music by DJ Fuzz was also mixed well, although a bit too much bass was obvious at certain parts of the show.

The lead cast had a dancing style all their own.
The lead cast had a dancing style all their own.

For the choreography routine, Alam utilised the space and time well. You were never lost in the plot, as there was a narrator to tell the story after most scenes.

Clearly a crowd favourite, Pak Pandir’s Mr Bean-like character was easy to fall in love with, as was Mak Andih. While he bumbled around, Mak Andih kept him in check with an iron fist. Yet the love was flowing and when they danced, they had a style to call their own – graceful and beckoning.

Besides the silent slapstick and the bucketful of brash energy from the fiery dancers, what made Pak Pandir Yo! highly entertaining were the larger-than-life backdrop scenes. It captured the intimidating big city perfectly, especially for two sarong-clad village folk on a new journey.

Alam is definitely on his way to bigger things.

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