MORE ABOUT AAFKE
By asking herself relevant questions about universal themes like
interpersonal relationships, processes in nature, environmental issues, multiculturalism etc. Aafke looks for ways to lead the focus of the audience and invites it to think, wonder, worry or smile with her. Her work lends itself to interpretation on many levels and allows the audience (and also it's performers) to reach their own heights of insight and appreciation. She hopes that her work can be looked upon as a 'conversation' - an exchange of thoughts, feelings and ideas.
The ultimate sense of freedom: an empty space or a blank sheet of paper
Wether an empty stage or a blank piece of paper Aafke finds inspiration from what the Balinese call sunyi, empty(ness) or void.
The liberation of creative process presented by the empty silence or the unlit stage fires her decisive nature. She finds the expressive world of art a place where she can manifest her insight and experience. Her compositions feed off the people and context which makes each performance ground breaking and unique.
Once she has set her mind upon a new subject, she makes sure she reads about everything about it, in the mean time shaping her own thoughts and creating images that can serve as a guide for her work later on in the process. To merge art, science and experiences from day to day life feels natural and logical to her (see e.g. her solo What Thoughts Are Made Of).
A space within a space, a time within a time
Since childhood she has a fascination for the repetitive patterns found in the graphic work of M.C. Escher, who combined art, nature and science. In her spare time she enjoys visiting museums, architectural interesting sites or landscapes, finding inspiration in simply 'being' in an interesting surrounding, allowing her thoughts to come to the surface.
Aafke feels attracted to the anthropological idea of what is so familiair to Balinese culture - the concept of bhuwana alit
(microcosm) and bhuwana agung (macrocosm). It feels comforting to her that the way our body and nature function on earth - mainly by cooperation and communication between cells, organs or other organisms - reflects similar processes in the universe as a whole. That mean that these processes that take place within ourselves are larger than ourselves at the same time. Flocks of birds and swarms of bees move as one singular entity, driven not by one leading bird or bee in particular, but by a joint consciousness. A pile of leaves that moves as being choreographed by the wind somehow can provide hope and trust that life itself will never end.
Two sides of a coin
The ambiguity of 'belonging' to this place we call earth on the one hand and on the other sometimes feeling 'detached' from her
surroundings is also characteristic to Aafke's work. The discrepancy between the two worlds - what we choose to show to the outside world and what we prefer to keep to ourselves never stops intriguing her. In her work she shows a desire to always equally "give the floor" to the two sides of the coin (see e.g. ITCH I and
Multiple disciplines to strengthen each other
Aafke finds most joy in making or designing all needs for a performance herself, including costumes and stage setting.
Upon recommendation of her high school teachers at first she
would attend art school to become an illustrator or painter. Instead she chose a professional education in dance, but never gave up drawing and painting. The idea of theatre functioning as a vessel for interdisciplinary art forms was simply more appealing to her.
Her preference for visual art often makes her approaching dance like a sculptor in space. To Aafke all art disciplines in fact sprout from a similar necessity and communicate in a similar way, only using different media. Perhaps therefor it is not a coincidence that since childhood she already felt so attracted to the culture of Bali, where many artists are often also dancers, musicians, singers, painters and sculptors at the same time.
Education and work
graduated from Rotterdam Dance Academy (now Codarts)
first year of studying Balinese dance on Bali, Indonesia at Denpasar
Conservatory STSI (now ISI) (*) and
with several renowned private
teachers, like Jero Made Puspawati,
Ni Ketut Arini Alit, A. A. Ayu
Sukmawati and Gusti Ayu Raka
(*) study made possible by
fundings of NUFFIC and Nederlands
Fonds voor de Podiumkunsten
(NFPK/Dutch Fund for Performing
graduated from Leiden University - Languages and Cultures of South
East Asia and Oceania with a
thesis on (political) developments
within the Balinese (court)dance
genre Legong Keraton.
1999 - 2003
continuation of studying in Bali, Indonesia. During these years De Jong founded Centre for Balinese Art & Culture DwiBhumi (meaning 'two worlds') in cooperation with Museum Puri Lukisan in Ubud, Bali.
Here many Balinese artists worked together involving foreigners in their
life, art and culture.
2003 - 2019
Aafke moved back to The Netherlands and founded
Balinese dance ensemble DwiBhumi *, with which she
mainly toured Europe, giving
dance performances, workshops and lectures. At the same time
she started Aafke de Jong / Interdisciplinary Dance Projects
* Mid 2019 Aafke turned over her Balinese dance ensemble DwiBhumi to a senior dancer
of the group, in order to being able to focus more on
choreography, drawing and
other art related projects.
2003 - now
Member of (now advisor to)
(Foundation for Indo-European Heritage) in The Netherlands for which she helped to realize
2005 - now
since many years Aafke is a regular guest dance teacher at
Rotterdam, where she also
received her formal dance
picture by Jaap Berends
In(do)spiration - or living in two worlds
Aafke creates multidisciplinary work, often - but not always - inspired by different aspects of various Indonesian cultures and
art forms. Ways of movement found in specific Indonesian dance styles often find their way into her performances, be it in a changed, adapted, sometimes perhaps even distorted way.
Her curiosity towards Indonesia started at a very young age -
she was around 7 years old - when she began to wonder why
so many people with an Indo-European background are living in
The Netherlands. She started asking questions and somewhat
later began reading books about the subject and so learned more about colonial history, which - be it in a very dubious way - ties Indonesia and The Netherlands together.
Shared memories - bridging cultures
Since 2003 Aafke often works together with Indonesian artists, about which you can find some examples on this website,
e.g. GONG, a co-creation with Indonesian composer
Iwan Gunawan (Java, Bandung) or Jatuh Bisu/Falling in Silence, a cooperation with Indonesian composer Sinta Wullur (Java) and writer Ketut Yuliarsa (Bali). She also regularly holds improvisation sessions with musician/composer Krishna Sutedja (Bali).
Aafke believes that the - often troubled - debate about colonial history, that today is again particularly topical, can benefit from
the cooperation and exchange between artists from Indonesian
and Dutch background. However, this is not the single reason for
her to seek cooperation with other (for example Indonesian)
artists. She is convinced that an open attitude towards 'the other' - be it another human being, another way of thinking or another culture - is a necessity in order to being able to live together in
a peaceful way.
Discover unbeaten paths together
Aafke also often works together with artists from other art disciplines in general, like writers, composers, costume designers and video artists. She especially appreciates working together with other artists, not only because she enjoys exchanging ideas on a similar level, but also because she likes the idea of being able to inspire each other and discover unbeaten paths together.
"When we (artists from Indonesian and Dutch back-
grounds) work together it is not even necessary to talk directly
about our shared history (when we feel like it we do so anyway), because we understand each other on a different level.
It is through our art that we can communicate and strive towards
a more open and inclusive future
- Aafke during a lecture at Iwanson School of Contemporary Dance in München, Germany 2017
"Art in general ,- unlike the language we often hear in every day speech or media - because of it's capability to bring more sensitive, hidden subjects or even taboos to the surface in a less direct way, has the unique quality to open up people's minds and therefor deserves ... no ... nééds to play a more prominent role in our (multicultural) society as we
live in today.
It is especially through sharing
music, dance, literature, poetry, visual arts etc. that we can learn
to listen to each other and that we can learn to have a more
open and respectful attitude towards our fellow human beings, towards nature and towards our surroundings."
-Aafke during an interview at the Münchner Stadtmuseum in Germany in 2017