Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 8:00pm
Special Guest Artist: Didik Nini Thowok
An Evening of Cross-Gender Enchantment
Indonesian music and dance
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2012 | 8 PM
Free; no tickets required.
The contemporary mask performer Didik Nini Thowok carries on a venerable tradition of Javanese female impersonation by a male dancer. His study of cross gender performance throughout Asia fuels his playful, modern performances presented in solo mask dances and unmasked performance of female dances of Bali, Central Java, and other parts of Asia, sometimes referencing Japan or India, which combine mysterious androgyny and comic sexual impersonation. Steeped in the classics and modern intercultural performance, he seeks to explore gender impersonation where normative boundaries explode and gender masks become quite literally masks which the performer manipulates to explore the unitary self.
At Yale he will present a program combining elements from several of these traditions.
Tari Golek Lambang Sari
This dance is from the classical Javanese repertoire and portrays a young girl putting on make-up, dressing, and adopting the poses of an adult woman. An old Javanese song depicts a transgender tradition in the courts: a prince was invited to perform in the Mangkunegaran palace of Surakarta and danced Golek Lambangsari. The song describes the beauty of his dance movement and his face, such that the men in the audience did not recognize that he was a man, and in a state of enchantment followed him to the dressing room, only then discovering that he was a man. Though today the dance is performed mostly by women, Didik here shares the dance in the version of the late, great dancemaster of the Yoygkarta palace court tradition, Pak Sasminta Mardawa.
Lengger is a dance style of East Java in the area of Banyumas which is known for mixing of styles from different parts of Java. and dynamic music In contrast to the court tradition of the tari golek lambangsari, this is an art of the people and the performance must immediately capture and hold the attention of the viewer. The dance is associated with harvests, fertility, and family celebrations when a ledek (dance entertainer) and ensemble would entertain family and guests, dancing for and with them. Though today the genre is performed almost exclusively by females, Didik returns the form to its roots where a male impersonated the female and danced to delight and enchant the male viewers.
This is a dance of multiple masks which shows the stretch of the artist and helps viewers understand the range of humanity. The tradition of mask dance is strong in Java and often the most important mask (topping) dances are solo genres where the artists changes genders, ages, and energies with the switch of a mask. The complete artist is now comic, now noble, now aged and ugly and in the next moment young and stunning. Didik continues this long tradition of multiple personas in one being, but adds his own comic flair and modern interpretations. He shows that the multiple personalities and different possible gender choices are constructs—the same dancer using his/her spirit can be and in deeper ways IS much bigger than the mask which temporarily is presented. Didik draws the classical and contemporary, the serious and the comic together in this medley.