Between 2005-2009 I resided in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where, among other things, I studied traditional dance and specifically Cirebonese Mask Dance with master dancers Didik Nini Thowok and Wangi Indriya.
Tari Topeng Cirebon (Mask Dance from Cirebon) tells the life journey of a person in society through five different mask characters, Panji, Samba, Rumyang, Tumenggung and Klana. Accompanied by a gamelan orchestra, each mask symbolizes a different phase in one’s journey from birth to adulthood, expressed through specific characteristic movements of the dancer, a variation of rhythms, and often active participation of the audience. Considered a sacred ritual dance performance, Tari Topeng Cirebon can be experienced in an array of village ceremonies, including those highlighting worship of the ancestors, marriage ceremonies, harvest season activities, circumcisions, and important family and community gatherings. Vestiges or simplified variations of Tari Topeng Cirebon can also be seen today in new forms of dance, street busking performances, and certain small theaters in cities throughout Indonesia and the world. Such dancers as Mimi Rasinah and Sudjana Ardja continued the preservation of this ancient mask dance, passed down through generations, making it further known through their gracefulness and devotion to this nearly lost dance performance form.
Tari Jaipongan, performed in Jatiwangi, 2008
Tari Topeng Klana: performed in Jakarta, Indonesia 2009