Wesleyan University Dance Department to Honor Artist in Residence Urip Sri Maeny May 2 and 3

Wesleyan University Dance Department to Honor Artist in Residence Urip Sri Maeny May 2 and 3

Wesleyan University's Dance Department to Honor
Artist in Residence Urip Sri Maeny
Events on Thursday, May 2 & Friday, May 3 to celebrate
her retirement following four decades of teaching Javanese dance

Middletown, Conn.—Wesleyan University’s Dance Department will honor Artist in Residence Urip Sri Maeny, and celebrate her retirement following four decades of teaching Javanese dance, on Thursday, May 2 and Friday, May 3, 2013 in World Music Hall, located at 40 Wyllys Avenue on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. The celebration begins on Thursday, May 2 at 7pm in World Music Hall with a free performance of excerpts from the dance drama "Ramayana," choreographed, adapted by, and featuring Urip Sri Maeny in her last production at Wesleyan, with Adjunct Professor of Dance Susan Lourie, undergraduate and graduate students, and Middletown community members; accompanied by the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble, under the direction of I.M. Harjito and Sumarsam. The next day, Friday, May 3 at 2pm, the annual Dr. Cynthia Novack Lecture will address cultural reconstruction in post-genocide Indonesia with a free talk in World Music Hall by dance scholar, choreographer, cultural theorist Dr. Diyah Larasati, author of "The Dance That Makes You Vanish" (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). The talk will conclude with a tribute to Urip Sri Maeny and the legacy of Javanese dance at Wesleyan. The lecture and tribute will be immediately followed by a reception and book signing in World Music Hall. All events are free of charge and open to the public.

About Urip Sri Maeny
Born in Pekalongan, Java, Indonesia in 1945, Urip Sri Maeny has taught Javanese dance at Wesleyan University since 1972, instructing generations of students in the classical dance of central Java, beginning with the basic movement vocabulary and proceeding to the study of dance repertoires. At the end of each semester, a concert is performed with the accompaniment of live gamelan music. (Students of Javanese Dance I will present their work on Thursday, May 9 at 7pm during a free performance with live gamelan accompaniment in World Music Hall.)

Maeny has also collaborated closely with the Wesleyan Music Department's Gamelan Ensemble. When she first came to Middletown, the gamelan was taught in what is now the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio at 247 Pine Street by her husband Sumarsam, who is currently a Wesleyan University Professor of Music (they married in 1969). The Center for the Arts opened in 1973, and the gamelan is currently taught in World Music Hall.  

Urip Sri Maeny's name is Javanese, with "Urip" meaning "Life," "Sri" meaning "a god of rice," and "Maeny" meaning "you can do anything." With a musical family background (her maternal great-grandfather was a gamelan player), she first started to dance at the age of five. She studied Dance at the Indonesian Conservatory of Music in Surakarta, earning a diploma in 1968. She later studied Dance at the Indonesian National Academy of Music in Surakarta, and became a faculty member at the Indonesian National Conservatory. She also danced and taught at the Office of Art and Culture in Jakarta (1968-1970), and was on the teaching staff at the Indonesian Presidential Palace (1970-1971). She performed one of the most sacred dances, "Bedhaya Ketawang," in the Royal Court of Surakarta in 1965. From 1965 through 1971, she performed in a number of major cities in Indonesia. She specialized in all three types of Indonesian dance—Javanese, Balinese, and Sundanese—and was a dancer of the Indonesian Government Cultural Missions to Hong Kong (1967), Australia (1968), and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and Iraq (1970); and the Indonesian Embassy Group performances in Australia in 1971.

Some highlights of her career have included dancing in a production of "Sendratari Ramayana" in Prambanan, Central Java from 1961 to 1964; directing and performing in a production of the Javanese dance drama “Arjunawiwaha” at Wesleyan in 1979, working with Ngaliman, her teacher from Indonesia who was a Fulbright Artist in Residence at Wesleyan; and directing a production of the Javanese dance and dance drama "Srikandhi-Larasati: Competition in the Art of Archery" performed at Lincoln Center in New York in 1983.

During her time at Wesleyan, she has also taught and performed at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; and at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; and conducted workshops and danced at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; and at Oxford University in England. She has also performed in Germany in Bonn and at the Burg Herzberg Festival of Music; and throughout the United States, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Society for Asian Music in New York; the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon; Buffalo State University, New York; and the State Capitol and the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Maeny conducted research and gathered pedagogical material at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts and Mangkunegaran Court in Surakarta in 2006, and gave a lecture/demonstration and gathered teaching material during a trip to China and Indonesia in 2007. Her most recent research trip to Indonesia took place in December 2011-January 2012.

About Rachmi Diyah Larasati
Rachmi Diyah Larasati is Assistant Professor of Cultural Theory, Critical Studies, and Dance History in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota. She also holds an affiliate graduate faculty position there in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and is a former guest faculty at the Brown University Critical Global Humanities Research Institute.  

In her talk, Dr. Larasati will speak about a space/place where people like Urip Sri Maeny, a female dancer, intervene in the different types of state-mandated artistic engagements and cultural exchanges, while remaining profoundly embedded in the government project of transmission of aesthetic knowledge. She will point out differences, such as sustainable and intangible "dancing moments"—the experience of bodily practice through the continuity of training students and other dancers—resulting in a changing embodiment of knowledge and aesthetic and sociopolitical value. In the case of Maeny, although the mechanism of transmission in Indonesia would proceed in very specific ways because people with her training and position must be directly affiliated with state institutions, the talk by Dr. Larasati will examine in detail what the key differences and similarities are between the type of engagement practiced by Maeny and that in U.S. academic institutions, and the structural and institutional causes.

A review of Dr. Larasati's book, "The Dance That Makes You Vanish: Cultural Reconstruction in Post Genocide Indonesia," by Anna Tsing (author of "Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection"), said "women’s bodies, dancing bodies—in this haunting book, they lead us to political terror and its erasure in safely contained cultural performance. The ghosts of dancers killed in state-sponsored anti-communist frenzy shimmer before us, their movements precisely replicated by their state-cleansed replacements. Memoir here winds in and out of cultural critique; we are led up to that vanishing point where power and violence tear their way into the heart."

About the Dance Department
The Dance Department at Wesleyan is a contemporary program with a global perspective. The curriculum, faculty research and pedagogy all center on the relationships between theory and practice, embodied learning, and the potential dance making has to be a catalyst for social change.  Within that rigorous context, students encounter a diversity of approaches to making, practicing and analyzing dance in an intimate learning atmosphere. The program embraces classical forms from Ballet, Bharata Natyam, Javanese, and Ghanaian, to experimental practices that fuse tradition and experimentation into new, contemporary forms.
For more information about the Dance Department, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/dance.