KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Fest 2017 kickstarted tonight with a special media preview of the festival's highly-anticipated stage musical, Supirak - The Legendary Stone Ark.
The dramatic performance on the legend of Supirak features mesmerising dances of the various ethnicities within the cultural melting pot of Sabah.
Each is unique in its own way - such as the Sumarikayau dance of the Orang Sungei people in Pitas, which mimics the gentle wispy movements of fish alongside the rhythmic sound of gongs. Or the Kuntaw, a dance of Chinese origin, which combines swaying gestures with acrobatic martial arts.
The significance of these dances stem from the myths that accompany them - some innocous, such as the Sumarikayau dance being inspired by the movement of fish and the sound of pounding rice.
Others can be eeriely violent, such as how the Sumanggak dance of the Tombonuo was inspired by the vengeful decapitation of the tribe's enemies.
These dances were being used in tandem with dramatic orchestral music to depict the tale of Supirak and her wayward son, Si Ragam.
The classical story, one of many in Sabah's rich folklore, will be retold to the general public on May 6 and 7.
Sabah Fest is an annual cultural extravaganza to mark the start of the Harvest Festival or Kaamatan month.
This year it will also feature the Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) in tomorrow's show, led by illustrious musicians Professor Alexander Souptel, Masako Suzuki White, and Gordon Siu.
The orchestra will showcase the talent of young prodigies from rural Sabahan communities via the the JPO Outreach Training Programme.