Dancing all the way to the Indonesian oil fields seems to be at least one way of getting a foot in the door and for the past 10 years children at the Palace of Culture, attached to a Moscow oil refinery, have been doing almost precisely that. Thanks to the efforts of a specialist attached to the Cultural Section of the Indonesian Embassy, Russian kids aged 10 and 11 have been learning Indonesian dancing and clearly doing what they can to foster cultural relations with the oil-rich Indonesian Timor Gap.
Last week they demonstrated their progress during a cultural performance that included professional native dancers and singers at a formal dinner to open a week-long Indonesian Food Festival at the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel. They could not have asked for a more appreciative audience. The guest list was made up almost exclusively of Indonesian Embassy staff, members of the Russian Foreign Ministry and representatives of Japanese big business.
While dancers and the AB3 pop group put on a show that "vividly reflected the mosaic of Indonesian cultural traditions," the Palace of Culture director, Svetlana Kovymena, explained: "The children are taught Indonesian singing and drawing as well as dancing." She added that it was usual for them to perform at the embassy, as they had done the night before. Their specialist, Abdilak, speaking through his interpreter, Irina Lapidous, a recent graduate from the Institute of Asian and African Countries, said: "My job is to teach singing and dancing to Indonesians and Russians. The embassy employs me just for that."