choreographer / dancer

Murtala, originally from Aceh in North Sumatra, is a well known choreographer in Indonesia, and one of only a few people in his region who hold a Major in dance. Since the age of eleven, he has trained under traditional teachers in Banda Aceh, and was one of the last generations to practice sitting body percussion dances as a Sufi practice. Today, these dances are practiced and performed for entertainment.

His primary specialty is in Acehnese body percussion dances, sitting dances and Rapai Geleng - a group sitting dance using Rapai frame drums. Murtala is frequently interviewed as a scholarly reference.

Having also trained in West Sumatra, he has learnt and mastered other Sumatran styles including, Pencak Silat, Tari Melayu, Tari Piring (a form of plate dancing), and Randai (a form of traditional theater, where dancers wear galembong pants which they use to create rhythmical patterns, as well as using their bodies creating tapuak galembong.)

In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami in Aceh 2004, Murtala returned to his homeland to work on the emergency relief effort. Whilst in the Aceh, he undertook a number of roles and responsibilities in the area of evacuation and logistics. He furthered his contribution by establishing a local NGO where he taught traditional dance, as well as training the teachers of tsunami and conflict victims. He was Director of the NGO until 2006.

He went on to study Masters in Dance in Central Java Indonesia and has since travelled around Indonesia and to Australia, Europe and Singapore where he teaches Acehnese dance to primary school, high school and university students. Murtala is a frequent performer at various festivals around Australia. He has a Bachelor of Performing Arts majoring in traditional dance from the Institute of the Arts, Padang Panjang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.

As a choreographer, writer and dancer, Murtala's works includes;

  • Opening ceremony of PKA -5 The Aceh International Art and Culture Exhibition where he choreographed more than 500 dancers in Aceh's main stadium with Kaka in 2009
  • Rantau (journey undertaken by Sumatran men) Belvoir St theatre, Sydney for Coolie, Asian Australian festival Feb 2011
  • Rampak Aceh (2007) in Solo & Sydney
  • Perkangku Kaki (2005) in Aceh & Padang Panjang
  • Hantu hutan, tahun tuhan (2004) in Padang Panjang
  • He has also published a book on New Creation dances, titled "Tari Aceh: Yuslizar & Kreasi Yang Mentradisi " (2008)