Post-Colonial Spirits (DOLALAK)

Choy Ka Fai

A relic of the Dutch colonial time, Dolalak is a traditional folk dance from Purworejo in Central Java. The trance dance is a mixture of traditional Javanese dance and imitations of Dutch soldiers drinking and partying in their army camps.

The performance is accompanied by live music with songs of their ancestral spirit and islamic poems. Over time, generations of female dancers took over the dance and modernised both the costumes and movement.

In February 2020, I embarked on a field research trip to Kaligesing in Purworego.

The case study is based on one of the last remaining ground of male dancers who still practise the traditional choreographic form, with dance notations originating from the 1930s.



Choy Ka Fai is a Berlin-based Singaporean artist. His multidisciplinary art practice situates itself at the intersection of dance, media art and performance. At the heart of his research is a continuous exploration of the metaphysics of the human body. Through research expeditions, pseudo-scientific experiments and documentary performances, Ka Fai appropriates technologies and narratives to imagine new futures of the human body.
Ka Fai’s projects have been presented in major institutions and festivals worldwide, including Sadler’s Wells (London, UK), ImPulsTanz Festival (Vienna, Austria) and Tanz Im August (Berlin, Germany). He was the resident artist at tanzhaus nrw in Düsseldorf (2017–2019) and Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin (2014-15). In 2010, he was awarded the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council, Singapore. Ka Fai graduated with a M.A. in Design Interaction from the Royal College of Art, London, United Kingdom.