New Internationalist

Rolex de la Pena

January 2003

The Eksotika Karmawibhangga Indonesia (EKI) is a dance group run by a husband and wife who are performance artists. Starting out as a haven for stray youth, the EKI has blossomed into a troupe of talented dancers, singers and musicians who entertain both the masses and Indonesia’s élite.

I watched in awe an EKI performance at a Buddhist colony north of Jakarta. I decided that the troupe’s ‘intricate grace’ should come out in my pictures. I shot many rolls of film, trying to capture that idea.

One in particular – a silhouette of a dancer waiting in the wings of the stage – was my best effort. The gentle rustling of her fingers on her clothes exuded calmness amid all the electricity. The form accentuated by light and darkness was a lure. This was the picture I was looking for, the image I was trying to create of these enchanting performers.

I started in photojournalism in college, working for the campus paper. After graduation I worked as a photographer for the oldest newspaper in the Philippines, The Manila Times. I’m still with the paper today, covering everything from crime scenes to street protests and sporting meets. My body’s sore most of the time – but my eyes are as alive as ever.

Rolex de la Pena, Philippines
By arrangement with Drik Picture Library Ltd

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 353 This column was published in the January 2003 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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