I first met Indonesian music duo Senyawa (Rully, Wukir) in Yogyakarta in 2014 when we set off on a long journey to a remote village in far eastern Java to observe a traditional trance ceremony. After two nights of prayers and offerings to the dead, dancers entered a state of trance through a series of vigorous performances. Now possessed, they were considered vessels for immortal spirits come to visit the living. To prove this extraordinary transition from human to non-human, they performed shocking acts of pain and strength before being exorcised by Shamans.
While in the village I reflected on my many years of creating virtuosic stage productions with highly trained dancers and my own contrasting early experience in dance. This happened on kibbutz in Israel as a child doing folk dancing, where participation was privileged over performance. I am an atheist but have always been interested in religious art and traditional ceremony. While my folk dancing background is not religious, it shares a similar traditional relationship where watching and participating, performing and experiencing are all interchangeable.
As contemporary artists performing to secular audiences, Rully, Wukir and I discussed our contradictory interest in traditional music and dance. We pondered why we and other seemingly non-religious people are drawn to this type of ceremonial performance. We concluded that dance and music can create transcendent states for participants, through which they become a part of something bigger than themselves. Making Attractor comes from a shared interest in constructing rituals for non-believers.