Murtala, originally from Aceh in North Sumatra, is a well-known choreographer in Indonesia, and one of only a few people in his region who hold a Major in dance. Since the age of eleven, he has trained under traditional teachers in Banda Aceh, and is one of the last generations to practise sitting body percussion dances as a Sufi practice. Today, these dances are practiced and performed for entertainment. His primary specialty is in Acehnese body percussion dances, sitting dances and Rapai Geleng – a group sitting dance using Rapai frame drums.
Having also trained in West Sumatra, he has learnt and mastered other Sumatran styles including, Pencak Silat, Tari Melayu, Tari Piring (a form of plate dancing), and Randai (a form of traditional theater, where dancers wear galembong pants which they use to create rhythmical patterns, as well as using their bodies creating tapuak galembong.)
He went on to study Masters in Dance in Central Java Indonesia and has since travelled around Indonesia and to Australia where he teaches Acehnese dance to primary school, high school and university students. Murtala is a frequent performer at various festivals around Australia and is an educator . He has a Bachelor of Performing Arts majoring in traditional dance from the Institute of the Arts, Padang Panjang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.