Malaysia’s renowned Mak Yong group, Kumpulan Mak Yong Cahaya Matahari, is set to showcase their traditional dance-drama in Singapore at the Pesta Raya- Malay Festival of Arts 2024. The group, hailing from Terengganu, will be joined by master musicians from Kelantan for five shows over three days at The Esplanade Singapore from May 10 to May 12.

In collaboration with local cultural organization and NGO Pusaka, the group will also conduct a special workshop for Singapore arts and culture practitioners on the Menghadap Rebab, the opening sequence of a Mak Yong performance. This partnership is not a first for Pusaka, as they have previously presented traditional Malaysian art forms at The Esplanade, including Ulek Mayang of Terengganu, Kompang Jidor of Johor, and Awang Batil of Perlis.

Mak Yong is a Malay dance-drama tradition that has a rich history and cultural significance. Recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005, Mak Yong combines elements of dance, music, acting, singing, and storytelling. The stories depicted in Mak Yong performances often revolve around royal-celestial figures rooted in the mythology of the old Kelantan-Pattani Sultanates.

Leading the Mak Yong group is veteran actress Che Siti Dollah, who is dedicated to preserving the tradition by passing it down through generations. The group, founded by legendary Mak Yong actress Che Ning in the 1960s, traces its lineage back seven generations and continues to keep the Mak Yong tradition alive in their community of Kuala Besut.

One of the main highlights of the performance will be the opening song, Menghadap Rebab, where dancers pay homage to the rebab (spiked fiddle) before the main story unfolds. Master Mak Yong performer, Abdul Kadir Dollah, known as Poksu Kadir, will take on the role of Raja Besar in ‘Anak Raja Gondang’.

Do not miss the opportunity to witness the captivating Mak Yong performances by Kumpulan Mak Yong Cahaya Matahari at The Esplanade Singapore during the Malay Festival of Arts.

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