The study program for Dance at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts was born from an Intercultural Workshop at the Taman Ismail Marzuki Cultural Centre in Jakarta around 1968-1969 when the centre was newly built. The participants were Sardono W. Kusumo, Sal Murgiyanto, Wayan Diya, Farida Oetojo, Sentot Soediharto, Julianti L. Parani, Retno Maruti and Hoerijah Adam, all experts in different ethnic Indonesian dance such as Javanese, Balinese, Minangkabau, Betawi with the exception, Farida Oetojo and Julianti L Parani who both were trained in the art of ballet. The purpose of this workshop was to give input to these dance artists in creating new dance and to make a foundation for contemporary dance in Indonesia.
This characteristic of training for choreographers has continued and is still reflected in the work of the the work produced by the initial participants of the Intercultural Workshop and recent choreographers graduating from the dance study program at the Jakarta Institute for the Arts or Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ). As a student from 1987, I experienced training in diverse traditional dances of Indonesia and also in choreography. My teachers were Wayan Diya, Sardono W Kusumo, Sal Murgiyanto, Farida Oetojo, Sentot Soediharto, Julianti L Parani, Retno Maruti, Deddy Luthan, Tom Ibnur, Wiwiek Sipala, Trisapto, Bekti Lasmini and Dewi Hafiyanti. All are well known names in the dance academies in Indonesia. I also learned from Nurdin Daud, Marzuki Hasan experts from Aceh also Ellya Rudhatin a teacher of the Classical Sundanese dance heritage. As for Modern Technique there were classes taught by Negaka Jauhari known for her prowess as a gymnastics trainer for the Government of Indonesia. In dance anthropology, I was lucky enough to have been taught the basics of dance research by Dr.Edi Sedyawati among others such as Hilarius S Taryanto both from the University of Indonesia and Dr. Sal Murgiyanto who gained his Ph.D from the United States.
Experiencing dance in this curriculum has forged in myself and the other graduates of this dance study program at IKJ, a sustainable love for contemporary dance and the dance traditions of Indonesia. However the strongest foundation was as a practioner in dance and choreography. Although to earn a Bachelor Degree in Dance Anthropology, it was prequisite to research and write a paper, my further studies at the University of Indonesia Faculty of Culture has given the skills needed for furthering research in dance. As student who grew up and went to a public school in Australia, Dapto, NSW and experienced dance first through ballet as a young child, and came home to Indonesia as a teenager, very much apart from the Indonesian culture, this opportunity to study and interact with all these diverse ethnic dance traditions through the curriculum at IKJ strengthened an appreciation for the the much now treasured heritage of Indonesia. As a descendant of the Minangkabau (west sumatran)ethnic, my studies have focused on the movements of Silat Minangkabau. Silat is a source of movements for many dances in Minangkabau. My first research on silat was on the Silat Lintau based Minangkabau Galombang Dance in religious and ritual contexts. My further research on dance and the connection with silat brought me into a collaboration with Ewel Yusri Datuk Rajo Gampo Alam an expert on the Silek Harimau Minangkabau or Tiger Silat from Minangkabau. Our interaction and collaboration produced a choreography titled “Indahnya Hutan Kami” a performance at the Taman Ismail Marsuki in 2012 for the Belantara Budaya event by Green Peace Indonesia addressing the issues of species endangerment of the nearly extinct Tiger due to heavy deforestation in Sumatra.