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Guest Artist
Sri Susilowati
(1998 resume)

Sri Susilowati in the Sundanese 'Peacock' dance

Sri Susilowati was born and grew up in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia.  She began studying classical Indonesian dance at age seven and performing at age ten. Her childhood teachers included the renowned F X Widaryanto, MA, who is now Dean of the School of Dance at the Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia in Bandung.

Sri attended the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Yogyakarta for their five-year program and received a Sarjana Strata I (roughly equivalent to a Master of Arts) in Dance Composition in 1980.  While at the Institute of Arts she concentrated on studying dance from the Balinese, Javanese, and Sundanese cultures in Indonesia. Choreography created during her time in Yogyakarta focused on using elements of Classical Javanese dance in a contemporary context. Part of her efforts included an intensive community arts project to revitalize traditional dance in the villages around Yogyakarta.

After graduation Sri moved to Jakarta where she undertook a variety of artistic projects.  She served as choreographer for dancers in the national rock music tour and film project, Kantata Takwa, which was viewed by hundreds of thousands. The album released as a result of this project was a best seller for many months. In this work she blended elements of her traditional training with more free-style "Western" movements. Sri organized the teaching of movement and dance at a school for gifted children, the Adik Irma Elementary School in Jakarta. While in school and afterwards she performed professionally continuously for large public performances on stage and on television, as well as for smaller private occasions such as weddings, ceremonies, and parties.

In 1993 Sri moved to the United States.  In 1994 she established the Susilowati Dance Company through which she conducts classes and workshops. Projects have included professional performances at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, the University of California at Berkeley, U.C.  Santa Cruz, Foothill College, Union Square in San Francisco, Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and smaller venues such as local dance studios, weddings, and parties. These performances in the U.S. have included Classical Javanese, Gambyong Pareanom, Golek Ayun-ayun, Klana Topeng, New Sundanese, Jaipongan, Doger Kontrak, and her own choreography, Renungan: Looking Back and Altar Offering.

The focus of Sri's dance performance and won work has been on revitalizing and adapting traditional and classical Indonesian dance and dance techniques for the current era. Her mission is to educate her audience about dance and show how dance, and more broadly art, can and should be an integral part of life.

Three important concepts in Indonesian dance are wirama, wiraga, and wirasaWiramameans the harmony and internal rhythm of the movement. Wiraga is the intensity and fullness of the movement, not in terms of its external power, but more along the lines of being filled with chi (in Chinese) or prana (in Sanskrit). Soft and delicate movement can be wiraga while movement that is seemingly strong and powerful can lack it altogether. Wirasa is the feeling of the movement.  The word "feeling" here is used not in the sense of emotion or passion, but in terms of the sensation when emotion and mental constructs are set aside.

Sri wants to preserve, and show and teach these concepts of Indonesian dance to Americans, along with the rich vocabulary of movement that exists in Indonesian dance.

Sri has performed Kompiang Metri's choreography for Dudley Brooks's musical composition Lithe Spirit.

Text Copyright © 1997-1998 by Sri Susilowati.  All rights reserved.

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