Indonesian performance artist lectures on cross-gender traditions

On April 8 from 1pm to 2:30pm, internationally acclaimed Indonesian performance artist Didik Nini Thowok will give a lecture-demonstration on Asian traditions of cross-gender dancing, accompanied by the York University Gamelan Ensemble under the direction of Nur Intan Murtadza. The presentation will look at the classic ritual dances of the royal palaces of Central Java as well as the traditional Japanese onagata form found in Kabuki and Noh drama.

Right: Didik Nini Thowok in performance

Following the lecture-demonstration, Yogyanese court musician Sutrisno Setya Hartana will lead a hands-on gamelan workshop from 2:30pm to 4pm, focusing on the compositional process of gamelan music and its possibilities for contemporary composition.

Thowok is considered one of the most talented performance artists in Indonesia today. He is highly sought after for his skills as dancer and teacher, and is one among the few who are continuing the long Asian classical traditions of cross-gender dancing. His unique ability to master and combine elements of the distinctly different dance styles of Bali, West, Central, and East Java has propelled him to the forefront of Indonesian artistic expression. As an international artist he has garnered numerous awards for his performances.

Hartana is one of Java’s most accomplished gamelan musicians. His tours in Asia, Europe and North America have included lecture-demonstrations, workshops and performances. He currently teaches at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts.

Left: Gamelan instruments

Gamelan is the traditional orchestra of Indonesia. York’s gamelan, named Nyai Mirah Kencana (“Lady Brilliant Vermilion”), has been generously loaned to the Department of Music for teaching and performance purposes by the Consulate General of Indonesia, Toronto. Made in the cities of Surakarta and Yogyakarta on the island of Java, it is an ensemble of gongs, gong-chimes, metallophones, drums, xylophone, flute, spiked-fiddle and zither, all tuned in laras slendro, one of the two traditional tuning systems used in Central Javanese gamelan. Brightly coloured in red, blue and gold, the gamelan is as beautiful to the eyes as it is to the ears.

The Gamelan Orchestra is one of the 14 student ensembles in York’s burgeoning world music program, featuring the musical instruments and traditions of many different global cultures. This colloquium is part of a series of public lectures presented throughout the academic year by the Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology and Musicology. This event will be held in the senior common room, 020 Winters College. A reception will follow the workshop. Admission is free. For more information, contact the Music Department at 416-736-5186.