Remembering the Tsunami's Victims Through Dance
When the tsunami hit their home town of Meulaboh on the Sumatran west cost, many of Tambora's members lost family members and homes. But after two years, the spirit of the group has never been higher.
"We feel that we are doing something important with our dance," explains Elsa, the troupe's overseer and costume designer. "As we are recovering from the tsunami it is also important to remember culture and to keep the Acehnese heritage alive."
The dance troupe, as well as the youth organization to which they belong, has received support from the International Rescue Committee to restart activities after the chaotic year that followed the disaster. The girls now have a new two-story rehearsal hall and the IRC has also provided materials for the costumes, instruments and make-up, to replace the equipment taken by the waves.
"We are also helping the group organize more public performances," adds Martin Canter, the IRC's education and youth development advisor in Aceh. "In the future we plan to help the youth group's own radio station organize live discussions on issues that are important to the young people of Meulaboh."
One of the dancers, 14-year-old Maya, says that her dancing is in honor of the people who died in the tsunami in Meulaboh and across Aceh.
"I was lucky," she says. "I didn't lose anyone in my family so this is a way to help others remember their dead through Acehnese culture."
Maya says that she became interested in dancing as a small girl and that her regular performances in front of crowds are the highlight of her week.
"And when we perform it also allows our parents to see the potential and the spirit of Aceh's young people," she adds. "This is our way to rebuild Aceh. We are very proud of this."
Maya dreams of becoming a police officer when she gets older, but culture will always have a special part in her life.
"I will always be dancing," she smiles. "This is my passion."