World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Sri Susilowati

Dance Origin: West Java, Indonesia
Genre: Sundanese
First Appearance at SF EDF: 2009

Jaipong is a twentieth-century hybrid of regional dance forms and martial arts from Sunda, West Java. The style has a bit of flashiness—said to be inspired by 1970s rock and roll—romantic and sexual undertones, and intense but centered emotions. At Indonesian celebrations, the soloist or pair of jaipongan dancers is the center of attention, inviting audience members to dance. The form, like all Indonesian folk forms, requires extensive training. Its basic structure is that of the harvest-time courtship dance, Ketuk Tilu: a simple step, hand gesture, and head gesture that repeat every eight beats. Movements from the martial art Pencak Silat add grounded physical strength; and dynamic elements from other Sundanese folk styles, such as the sensual Bajidora, contribute a joyful freedom.

Dancer and choreographer Sri Susilowati studied traditional Indonesian dance from age seven. She learned jaipongan from Sri Dinar Munsan at the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Yogyakarta where she earned a B.F.A. in Choreography. In the U.S., she earned an M.F.A. from UCLA, and founded the dance companies Harsanari in San Francisco in the 1990s, and the Sri Dance Company in Los Angeles in the 2000s. Sri creates and performs both traditional and contemporary work including recent work with David Rousseve and at Counterpulse in San Francisco. She received the Los Angeles Women’s Theater Festival’s Rainbow Award in March of this year.


Title:Mojang Jaipong
Choreography Arrangement/ Soloist:
Sri Susilowati

Mojang Jaipong means jaipong dancer. This Sundanese dance tells a story of a jaipong dancer whose beauty, grace, and strength shine through her movements.

A jaipong dancer dances with grace and confidence—
Her movement harmonizes with the music.

The dancer's sanggul hairpiece, kebaya blouse, and batik cloth sarong are traditional, formal Sundanese clothing. The music is performed by Robot Percussion: arranged by Ega Robot, with Masyuning on vocals. Traditionally, folk musicians play a simple set of three small kettle gongs, called ketuk. The striking of the drum is closely allied with the dance movements, and the dance gets its name from the sound of the drums: blak-ting-pong and ja-i-pong.


Title:Jaipong Tablo
Choreographer/ Soloist:
Sri Susilowati

Jaipong Tablo (Mourning Dance)tells the poignant story of a woman mourning the loss of her beloved. The dancer wears black to show her grief, and she recalls her sad, happy, and joyful memories. The vocalist sings: The painful longing for my love is somehow sweet / Because through it he is present through my memory. . .


Jaipongan is one of a number of indigenous styles that evolved only thirty years ago in Sunda, West Java.(“Jay-ee-pong-an” is an onomatopoetic reference to music.) The form'sinfluences come from: ketuk tilu, a harvest-time courtship dance; bajidor, a dynamic, joyful, and sensual dance style from the northern coast of West Java; and pencak silat, an Indonesian martial art. The movement is supple and strong with an emphasis on the romantic interaction between partners. The jaipongan style is danced solo, in pairs, and in groups, with women often emphasizing ketuk tilu and bajidor and men emphasizing the martial arts. In West Java, a joyful jaipongan choreography is danced at weddings, with audiences joining in.

The costume is formal Sundanese clothing, with a hair piece (sanggul), blouse (kebaya), and batik cloth/sarong (kain). The movements—simple steps, repeated gestures with the hand or head—sometimes follow each musical beat, and sometimes speed up or slow down. The music was recorded by Robot Percussion, with Ega Robot and Rita Tila, using the ketuk, a set of three small kettle gongs, as well as larger gongs and keyed metalophones. The most important revolution in jaipongan was the use of kendang drum with a flashy, dramatic style, and an expanded battery of drums.


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