Steve Laronga was the guest gamelan director at U-M during the Winter 2018 semester, one of the program's busiest, with three performances within a few weeks of each other. He directed the gamelan at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 2007-2016, where he is also a doctoral candidate. His research is on the working lives of professional gamelan musicians in the East Javanese port city of Surabaya. He is especially interested in popular traditions of gamelan music and in the shaping influence that relationships between performers and performance sponsors may exert upon musical repertroires and conventions.
Wahyu Santosa Prabowo has been one of the most important contemporary Indonesian choreographers and is an accomplished classical Javanese dancer and gamelan musician. He has a BA in Dance from the Institut Seni Indonesia Surakarta, the foremost conservatory of music and dance in Indonesia, and an MA from Gajah Madah University in Yogyakarta. He has been teaching dance and choreography at ISI since 1978. He was appointed creative and artistic director at one of the most prestigious venues for the traditional arts in Jakarta for his production of “Borobudur” in 2006. In 2005, he received first prize from the Jakarta Arts Council for his critical essay of dance/music criticism entitled. He has participated as a dancer/choreographer in many dance festivals, in England, Australia, Germany, Japan, India, France, Cairo Egypt, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, and China.
Maharani Luthvinda Dewi was born in Central Java, has a BA in Dance and a Master of Dance from ISI. Together Wahyu Santosa Prabowo and Maharani Luthvinda Dewi created a dance drama based on Indonesian Islam, danced by themselves and their gamelan and dance students, in Hill Auditorium on April 10, 2017. The concert also celebrated the University of Michigan bicentennial.
Santosa Soewarlan (ISI Surakarta) is the master teacher from Indonesia for fall 2015. Sponsored by the Scheme of Academic and Mobility Exchange (SAME) program of the Indonesian Directorate General of Higher Education as well as by CSEAS, Professor Santosa brought a wealth of performance experience and years of scholarly study to the ensemble. The U-M Gamelan concert under his direction took place Saturday, December 12, at 8:00 PM in Hill Auditorium.
Roger Vetter taught gamelan at U-M for six weeks in winter 2015. Roger recently retired from Grinnell College as a professor of ethnomusicology and a specialist in Javanese gamelan music. He led the U-M gamelan group in a performance of traditional music and classical dance on February 15, 2015, at 8 PM the Stamps Auditorium. His residency was sponsored by the Center for World Performance Studies, the Residential College, and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
Anon Suneko, Dancer and kendhang player, comes to U-M from Yogyakarta, where he received his BA in gamelan music in 2006 and his MA in Indonesian music in 2011. He is a dancer and a musician, and here he taught both dance and gamelan. Anon’s specialty is kendhang (drum), arguably to most difficult gamelan instrument and the lead instrument of the ensemble. He has won top prizes in major Indonesian competitions in Jakarta and Yogyakarta for best kendhang player (2011, 2010, 2005, 1995) and best music director (2011, 2009, 2005). He has performed all over the world, from Australia to Europe to East Asia and India. Anon has been the music director of many dance performances, including sendratari, wayang wong, and other traditional forms of Javanese dance. As music director, he has composed many new pieces and arranged traditional ones. Anon performed, with his students and the U-M Gamelan Ensemble, on March 26 at Hill Auditorium, to a packed house. In addition to this public performance, he taught gamelan music at Mitchell Elementary School, where the kids were eager to try their hands at the music of Java.
F.X. Widaryanto, Master Choreographer and Master Dancer, is a rare hybrid among Javanese performing artists. He is a famous choreographer, an accomplished gamelan musician, a scholar and a university administrator. Currently the director of Masyarakat Seni Pertunjukan Indonesia, Indonesia's first academic society for the performing arts, he is assistant director at STSI Bandung, a key conservatory of Indonesian music and dance. He holds two national governmental positions. Widaryanto earned his Master of Arts degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and has published six books on choreography and dance aesthetics and scores of articles, book chapters, and working papers. He has received grants from the Toyota Foundation (2000), the Japan Foundation (1994), the International Institute of the University of Michigan (1995), and Fulbright (1980). This year, he is teaching gamelan and dance classes at the university and will put on a dance drama based on the pan-Islamic Amir Hamzah story, accompanied by gamelan on March 27, 2011.
Sigit Adji Sabdopriyono/Yulisa Mastati, Master Puppeteer and Master Da, spent two years at U-M, teaching, performing, and sharing what they know of Javanese traditional and contemporary dance. They collaborated in two major performances as well as teaching local elementary school students Javanese dance and puppetry.
Didik Nini Thowok, Master Dancer, came to U-M to perform at the Asian Artists Respond: Indian Ocean Tsunami Relief concert in January of 2005. Mas Didik is an extraodinary dancer as well as choreographer, comedian, and entertainer. His range includes classical, folk, modern, and comedic dance form. His skill at both masked dancing as well as cross-gender dancing elevate both of these Indonesian traditions. For more on Didik Nini Thowok, see his TEDx performance.
Matheus Wasi Bantolo and Olivia Retno Widyastuti are Master Javanese Dancers. They were in residence at U-M from 2003–05 as Hughes Fellows, teaching both beginning and advanced Javanese dance and gamelan and preparing a full-scale dance drama production of stories from the Ramayana in Winter 2004 and the Mahabharata for performance in Winter 2005.