We are please to announced the two plenary speakers for the conference.

Dato' Ramli Ibrahim ~ Accomplished in ballet, modern, and Indian classical dances, Ramli Ibrahim is a cultural icon who has performed internationally for four decades. As artistic director of Sutra Dance Theatre, Ramli has choreographed stunning works, and has nurtured some of the brightest dance talents from Malaysia.

Since his return to Malaysia more than thirty years ago, this prodigal son of the Malaysian soil has been instrumental in transforming the dance scene in Malaysia by boldly charting new paths, and singlehandedly establishing odissi as a widely appreciated dance form in Malaysia.

Besides odissi, Ramli has also simultaneously contributed to the establishment of Malaysian contemporary modern dance through the creation of a strong body of original works, which define 'modernity' from Asian perspectives. Awardee of 'Sangeet Natak Akademi' (2012) from President of India, Ramli is presently Chairman of Sutra Foundation.


Sutra Foundation started its Dance Outreach program in 2013 with the intention of offering opportunities to children living out of major cities, the benefit of a formal training in dance. By 2014, Sutra's Dance Outreach program has expanded to three areas outside the Klang Valley, where the environments are hardly exposed to classical dance forms.

The program's major objective is to provide the best dance teaching methods and early exposure to the creative world of Indian dance. Through the program, we hope to develop a love for timeless traditional values in the youths who would eventually be the cultural bridges for the communities. Simultaneously, Sutra is also keen to discover new dance talents outside city centres. Odissi (rather than Bharatanatyam), an exquisite classical dance from Eastern India, serves as the dance discipline chosen to kindle this physical and character transformation.

This lecture demonstration looks at the result after three years of intensive work on the youths, concluding with a short performance of Navarasa, (9 sentiments) by two of the students trained in the program.

Bernard Goh ~ A graduate from the Malaysian Institute of Arts, Bernard Goh is the founder and artistic director of Hands Percussion (HANDS), which has been a major part of the Malaysian performing arts. He was among the first batch of students studying under master Tan Hooi Song who was the founder of '24 Festive Drumming' troupe-each drum represents one of the 24 solar terms of the agricultural seasons in the Chinese calendar. Bernard founded Hands Percussion with Eric Ch'ng in 1997, and later started travelling internationally with the team members. He brought in the group's first deaf member in 2007 and has since taught and coached several hearing-impaired students who have performed in numerous shows with the group. He further promoted the drumming culture when he was appointed chairman of the '24 Festive Drumming' promotions department in the cultural consultative committee of the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong).


Empowering Society through Theatrical Drumming and Percussion

HANDS Percussion has been part of the Malaysian performing art scene since 1997 celebrating 20 years in the industry, next year in 2017. Known for pushing boundaries in their artistic portfolio, they remain grounded in rich musical influences the various cultures Malaysia and its surrounding neighbour have to offer. Developing contemporary theatrical drumming and percussion trends using Shigu drums as well as other Southeast Asian instruments are an integral part of the group's development and growth.

HANDS commitment to educational outreach and empowerment has seen them teach and share their drumming artistry with more than 8000 students in schools all over Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. One of their popular community outreach programmes is the 'Balik Kampung' project which sees the group heading out of rural communities to teach underprivileged children the art and joy of drumming. The group have also organised events for children to learn about art and culture, visiting art and design establishments as well as attending a production bh HANDS.

Roselina Johari Md. Khir ~ Roselina Johari Md. Khir graduated with her M.A. in Theatre and Drama from Indiana  University, Bloomington, USA and had taught subjects such as acting, directing, drama production, playwriting and the like. She has hands-on experience in theatre through directing Euripedes' Medea, Aristophanes' Birds, Plautus' Menachemi, Shakespeare's The Midsummer Night's Dream, Jean Genet's The Maids, Brecht's The Three-Penny Opera, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman among others. She is now teaching Literature at the Department of Language and Literacy, FAculty of Education, University Malaya and is very much involved in carrying out workshops in empowering the use of English to students and teachers through play, through acting, puppetry and so on. Her recent PhD creative arts-research took her to Kinabatangan to work with young students in developing a script and performance of the rainforest Musical, People of the Forest.


Empowering Society by Empowering our Young through Arts Education

Theatre has always functioned as a democratic public space, a space for reflection where a text is enacted. Theatre and drama inherited this tradition from the ancient Greeks and this should be stressed as the function of the Arts. Arts education in Malaysia should aim to generate citizens of the future, active citizens who can reflect, articulate and debate global issues in the quest for empowering society. The future arts education for our young should go towards more than acquisition or development of cognitive skills in theatre but move towards helping them embark on the quest for wisdom and to think of deeper questions about human existence. Global issues in the area of economic disparity, social migration and environment, should be debated and discussed and communities empowered. Empowering a community means that community projects should not be carried out as a one-off project as being done now in Universities as compulsory First year course, but particulary for Theatre and Performance Arts Students, it should go towards the creation of value and be looked at as an agent of social change. This paper will look at the meaning of empowerment, not just as a shared-created theatre product but more important, at the processes that lead to that shared creation, that is access, collaboration between two parties and the impact of that collaboration, and hope that Arts Education in this country will benefit from the dialogue.