Introducing Sinta Storms
Sinta Penyami Storms is an Indonesian dance artist as well as a visionary, community leader, and activist who nourishes and promotes dance, fashion, cuisine, and other aspects of Indonesian tradition. Sinta's mission is to preserve and promote the Indonesian culture. In 2011, she started Modero Dance Company to promote her art and provide a safe space for the Indonesian community. Besides sustaining the Indonesian community's creative economy, Modero dancers are actively involved in social justice issues such as race and gender equality, immigration issues, and worker's rights.
Follower her journey @sintastorms
What inspired you to start your community work/organization?
When I first moved to South Philadelphia I was excited to find a concentrated and thriving Indonesian community. There was an abundance of traditional Indonesian food, but there was a noticeable void of traditional music and dance in the community. This is how Modero, my dance company, was conceived. I started teaching two of my friends and we would perform at community events. As our presence grew, and we gained visibility, many parents eagerly signed up their children to learn from me. Resources were scarce and I wanted the dance to be accessible to all, so I decided to teach them for free.
Why is the work you do through your platform so important?
My work as an artist centers around providing access to Indonesian cultural experience to the community in my adopted city. These experiences could be varied from learning traditional Indonesian dance to attending a community food festival or simply learning that Indonesia is an island country that consists of more than 17,000 islands. A performance with an ornate costume is beautiful but it is more meaningful when there is context to the art. When I perform with the community, I always believe in explaining the story of the dance, the people dancing it, the parts of Philadelphia we represent, and our challenges as immigrants. I intentionally raise awareness of political and civic issues and connect my community to resources. This is how I use my art. It's more than just dancing, it's a conversation starter, a way to represent and connect with the community, take pride in our culture, and carve space for us in our adopted home.
What is your favorite dish? Is there a story behind it?
I love fish cooked in whatever ways because I grew up eating fish! It was cheaper to buy than chicken or other meats. I also love soto (soup) it's my comfort food. Soto has that certain smell of my country that at times I miss so much.
What does courage mean to you?
Courage to me is taking the road less traveled but also about taking chances for the greater good. Sometimes it's easier to jump on the bandwagon because it's easier or more streamlined but sometimes we have to stick to our principles, and for me, a lot of my principles come from the Indonesian traditional values.
Where can we expect to see you in the next few years?
I hope, I can truly focus more on my art form and help the Indonesian community in south Philly even more. I started a non-profit called Gapura with a couple of amazing people who are truly my inspiration. The support from many has been positive so I hope that in a few years, we can grow as a community, empowering each other and leaving a beautiful legacy in Philly.
Thank you so much Sinta for sharing your story with us! Tuk Tuk Box is proud to exclusively feature Southeast Asian ingredients and include refugee, migrant, and generational stories in every box.
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