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I Wayan Dibia2

The living tradition of Balinese performing art encompasses
various forms of dance theatre utilizing masks. 3 One of the most
important forms is Topeng, a masked dance theatre acted by actor-
dancers wearing masks.4 Despite the increasing influence of modern
entertainment on Bali, Topeng continues to have special place in
various aspects of the Hindu Bali cultural tradition.
Up to the present Topeng is a major theatrical form in Bali. The
Balinese stages Topeng with its different variants in association with
religious, social, and cultural activities. Topeng performances, both in
the rural and urban community, continue to draw a large crowd. This
is mainly because Topeng always presents and speaks about values
and spirits relevance to the contemporary Balinese society.
The central concern of this paper is the existence of Topeng in
contemporary Bali. The primary purposes of this paper are to
demonstrate the important functions of Topeng in various aspects of
the religious, social, and cultural activities of the Hindu-Bali people,
to explain its aesthetic principles, and to show change in the
performance emphases. By investigating Topeng, based Topeng
performances observed during the last ten years in different places in

A Paper presented for Seminar and Workshop on The Andong Masks Festival, Soul - South Korea,
25-30 September 2008.
Lecturer at Indonesian Arts Institute, Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI) Denpasar

A word in Balinese language for masks is tapel (from tup to mean cover) literally mean to close or
press against the face.
In addition to Topeng masked dance theatre, masks are also used in other performing art forms, such
as Barong, Wayang Wong, Telek and Jauk, Legong, Calonarang, Kecak, and the modern Balinese dance
drama known as Sendratari.

Bali, this paper aims to show how this traditional art form copes with
the ever-changing culture of Bali.

Historical and Cultural Background

Performance using mask is an old tradition in Bali. Many
speculate that masked performance has evolved in Bali over many
centuries and it is rooted in the indigenous belief system of the
Indigenous belief systems. Masked performance in Bali is
strongly rooted in the indigenous belief system integrating animism
and ancestor worshiping, which had evolved long time before the
arrival of Hinduism on the island. With such a belief system, from the
ancient time to the present, the Balinese developed rituals utilizing
images in the form of statues, puppets, and masks. The main purpose
of the ritual is to gather the power and souls of the living things in the
nature, and to invite ancestral spirits of the upper world to descend to
the middle world. The Balinese strongly believe that with the
protection of these souls and spirits from the invisible world (niskala)
they will be able to live peacefully in this real world (sekala).
Bebetin Manuscript. One of the earliest records on masked
performance is the Bebetin manuscript dating back to the Caka year
818 or 896 A.D. Among the important terms found in the manuscript,
which suggest performances using masks, are partapukan, atapukan,
or hanapuk (tapuk means to cover or mask). Most scholars and
experts in Balinese performing arts believe that mask performances
have well developed at that time. However, no one knows whether the
mask performances mentioned in the manuscript are close to the
Topeng masked dance theatre flourishes in Bali today.
Babad Dalem Manuscript. The oldest Topeng masks in Bali,
dating from the fifteenth to sixteenth century, are kept as sacred
object at the Pura Penataran Topeng temple of Blahbatuh in Gianyar
district. According to Babad Dalem manuscript, these masks were
spoils of war when the Minister Ularan was in his mission, under the

order of King Waturenggong of Bali, to Blambangan in East Java to
attack King Juru. After killing the King through a deadly fight, the
Minister took, among which, a box of Javanese masks to Bali and
present them to King Waturenggong. Later Balinese artists used these
masks as model.
Community Theatre. Over times, Topeng has developed into a
form of community theatre. Loved nearly by all in the community, the
Topeng is produced and performed by the populous, and more
importantly, it is intended to entertain all in the community.
It is important to mention that up the present Topeng still a
male dominated theatre.5 Although the enacted story may well include
female figures, these characters are usually revered to. Therefore, it is
rare principal female roles appear in a Topeng play.6
Topengs audience is comprised of all ages; children, adults, and
elderly people, from all levels of society; upper, middle, and lower class
people. Although the performers are exclusively male, Topeng plays
appeal to everyone in the society. There are parts of the Topeng
performance, which appeals the children, and there are many sections
in the play intended to entertain the adults. Moreover, the theme of
the play deals with social, cultural, and political issues for all classes
in the community.

The Variants of Balinese Topeng

Presently Topeng has developed into four variants: Topeng
Pajegan, Topeng Panca, Topeng Prembon, and Topeng Bondres. These
variants evolved during different periods of the Balinese history; the
first and the second evolved between the seventeenth to nineteenth
century, and the last two variants were created during the modern era
(twentieth century).
The most recent development is Topeng Sakti, an all womens group, which performed at the 2001
Magdelena Festival in Denmark. The musicians were women from the Mekar Ayu gamelan group in
Pengosekan, Ubud and the dancers Ni Nyoman Candri and Cokorda Istri Agung from Singapadu and
Cristina Formaggia from Italy.
In the past, several experiments on Topeng performance involving both female characters acted by
female performers have been conducted in Bali, but yet so far, the result have been not too satisfying.

Topeng Pajegan, also known as Topeng Sidakarya, is a masked
dance theatre performed by a solo actor-dancer. 7 The Balinese regard
Topeng Pajegan as the oldest variant of Topeng, developed around the
seventeenth century during the reign of King Waturenggongs
grandson, King Demade, in Gelgel-Klungkung. The King and his Prime
Minister, I Gusti Pering Jelantik, created a dance drama using the
masks brought home from the palace of Blambangan in East Java
during the invasion of the Blambangan Kingdom.
In order to portray the different characters in the play, the
dancer changes his mask and headdress every time he appears on
stage without changing his costume. He moves, sings and speaks
according to the facial expressions of the mask. He himself also tells
the story and describes the dramatic action of the play. One of the
most important characters on Topeng Pajegan is Sidhakarya which
means to finish the task, to signify that the ritual is completed. A
white mask with narrow slits for eyes, buckteeth, and sporting wild
white hair, he is indeed frightening. His movements are sparse; he
hops around and laughs eerily. Frequently he snatches up a young
child in the audience and gives him or her Chinese coins with square
holes in the center as a symbol of prosperity.
Due to the complex dramatic role the actor must perform, and
the priestly duty he must take, reputed and matured actors with
priestly knowledge are more preferred to perform Topeng Pajegan. Or,
the actor must have undergone a purification ceremony called
mawinten. It is also common for a real temple priest, or a shadow
puppet master (dalang), performs this Topeng.
Topeng Panca, literary means Topeng theatre normally acted
by five actors, is a derivative of the Topeng Pajegan. This Topeng
variant first appeared in around the eighteenth century, if not later.
Because its performamce features more dancers, Topeng Panca is also

Now one can see a performance of Topeng Sidhakarya at religious rites done by two to three dancers.
This is because nowadays it is becoming more common for Balinese dancers to share the performing
opportunity for ritual as part of their religious duty.

called Topeng Gede (large Topeng performance) which means its
performance requires a longer time to complete. Topeng Panca began
to reach its popularity around the 1930s, and it is still a popular
dramatic form in Bali today.8
Unlike Topeng Pajegan, the requirement to Topeng Panca actor-
dancers is relatively lighter. In the performance of Topeng Panca the
dancers divide the dramatic roles in the play among them; the dancers
are assigned to act as the king, minister, buffoon, clown, etc. Those
who are strong dancer with limited skills in speaking dialogue, or
story telling, may take the roles with less or no dialogue. However,
the roles, such as the buffoons and the clowns, who narrate and
describe the story line, while making contemporary jokes, must be
played by more matured and experienced actors.
Topeng Prembon is essentially a mixed masked dance theatre
featuring characters with and without mask. A derivative of the
Topeng Panca, combining elements of Topeng and the opera dance-
drama of Bali--Arja, this dance theatre emerged in 1942 through a
collaborative production of a group of artists from Gianyar and
Badung regencies. The creation of this dramatic form was strongly
stimulated by the growing awareness of the local artists on their new
provincial and national roles during the revolution of Indonesia. With
the inclusion of these Arja roles, Topeng Prembon becomes a theatre of
male and female artists although male actors still dominate the
Topeng Bondres is a masked dance theatre dominated by
comic characters, such as, buffoon and clowns, and its play contains
endless amount of spontaneous humor. Created around the early
1980s, the Topeng Bondres, the youngest in the Topeng genre, is a
flexible dramatic form, in that it does not rely on a formal performance
Lately in Bali, it is common for a Topeng Panca performance involving only three or four dancers.
Once a while, the same form may be acted by seven performers.
Many in Bali consider Prembon an important concept for creativity, especially in
Balinese performing arts, for it allows artists with different artistic skill to interact and
to share their talent.

structure. It tells no literary story and its entire performance is filled
with humor. The play may begin with a dramatic scene from a
classical story, but then it digresses into spontaneous critics and
comments on current issues.
During the last five years, Topeng Bondres begins to include
female Arja roles of the similar character types (comic characters).
With the inclusion of these roles, Topeng Bondres has become a
shorter version of Topeng Prembon.

Performance Elements
Topeng is a complex theatrical form integrating mask, dancing
and acting, story telling, gamelan music, and offerings. Among these,
mask is the most important elements of Topeng, and dancing with
mask is the essence of this theatrical form.
Mask. The masks or tapel used in Topeng usually portray
human faces; as one can see through their size, complexion, and more
importantly the type of face. The masks are handmade of wood,
painted with Balinese pigments and accentuated with hair and
jewelry. The dancers hold their masks in place using a rubber strap. 10
Prior to the performance, the actors adorn their masks with gegirang
leaves and flowers to enliven the performance.
There are normally eight to twelve different masks used in a
Topeng performance. Based on their size and physical forms, these
masks can be classified into three groups: full mask or tapel
bungkulan which covers the entire face; half mask or tapel sibakan
which covers from the forehead down to the upper lip; and mini mask
of tapel kepehan which covering only the forehead and nose, or nose
and jaw. The full masks are for topeng keras (the strong character)
topeng tua (the old man), and topeng dalem (the refined king); the half

The first masks found in Bali had mouthpieces (canggem) that the dancer bit on to hold the mask in
place. Some speculates this is because the masks found in Bali reminds us a lot with both Javanese
This type of mask is still used in Ketewel village in the sacred Legong Topeng dance.

masks are used by the buffoon or panasar and some of the clowns
(bondres); and mini masks are used only by the clown.11
Dance. The dance movements utilized in Topeng are based on
the classical Balinese dance drama--Gambuh. Topeng dance, in
general, consists of four main movement categories: agem, tandang,
tangkep, and tangkis. Agem are non-locomotive actions and tandang
are locomotive. Together, these two aspects make up the main
choreography. Tangkis are traditional phrases, which connect agem
and tandang movements, and tangkep are facial expression. Since
there are many speaking sections in Topeng performances, in-place
movements and hand gestures dominate Topeng choreography. The
actors move creatively, either leading or following the gamelan music,
to suit the expressions of the masks, which at first appear static and
neutral yet once animated, take on a multitude of emotions.
Although in some parts of Topeng performance the actors
perform a rather fixed choreography, in most parts of the play they
improvise their dance. The gamelan music always responsive to the
dancers action, in fact, many dance movements cue the changing
tempo and dynamic of the gamelan music. This signaling system
between dancer and musicians, through the drummers, allows the
actors to shorten or lengthen their dance sequences depending upon
their artistic impulse and the response to the audience.
In Topeng, as in most Balinese theatre, dance is one means of
defining the social status, gender, and persona of the characters for
the audience. The principals, representing the aristocracy, dance
formally, utilizing more stylized and structured movements. To
maintain their sense of formality, they reinforce their spoken lines
with dance. In contrast, the servants and clowns who represent people

To make a sacred Topeng mask, Topeng maker must first go to a special place, sometimes to a
graveyard where the pule (Alstonia scholaris) tree grows. Offerings are made and permission requested
to take wood from the trunk of the tree.

of the lower class utilize rather informal, spontaneous movements,
and their dances are relatively simple.
Story. The main resource of Topeng stories is Balinese
chronicles (babad) traditionally written on palm leaf manuscripts or
lontar. The stories may depict, for example, the journey of the
Javanese priests and noblemen to Bali from Java between the ninth
and the seventeenth century; or the historical journey of Balinese
ancestors took place later, the founding of many Hindu-Bali temples
around the island; the inauguration of the local villages; the marriage
of the local kings and their royal family members; and the role or
emergence of clans in Bali. Among the most important literature
containing Topeng stories are: Babad Dalem or the Chronicle of the
Kings which tell of the glorified history of the ancestral heritage of the
high cast on the island; Kidung Pamancangah which describes the
family line of Balinese kings; Babad Blahbatuh, Babad Wug Gianyar,
Babad Mengwi, to mention only a few. Whatever the story is about,
there will always be scenes depicting present day people of Bali
speaking about very contemporary issues and telling jokes despite the
fact that the drama is set in the eighteenth century, or even earlier.
Impressed by Topengs mixed plot, some dramatists claim that Topeng
bridges the past and the present, the distant and the immediate.12
Topeng stories are always heroic and didactic. They are heroic
in that they tell of many great battles involving local kings, clan
leaders, and other heroes. They are didactic since Topeng stories
convey philosophical concepts, such as the duality (rwa bhineda) in
life involving two conflicting forces: good (dharma) and evil (adharma).
The stories usually end with the victory of the good side. Topeng
stories integrate balanced elements of both serious drama and comedy
making the performance neither too serious nor frivolous.

See Jhon Emigh. Masked Performance: The Play of Self and Other in Ritual and Theatre
(Philadelphia: University of Penssylvania Press), pp. 105-156.

Gamelan music. The music accompaniment for Topeng in most
cases is gamelan Gong Kebyar.13 This is one of the largest gamelan
ensembles on the island, employing between 30 to 35 musicians, and
the most popular ensemble throughout Bali.
This five-tone pelog scale gamelan is composed of eight different
kinds of instrument most of which are percussion. Among important
instruments in the ensemble are the vertical gongs (gong ageng,
kempul), flat gong (bebende), knobbed gongs (reyong, trompong, kajar,
kempli) gangsa metallophones (jegogan, jublag, ugal, penyacah,
pemade, kantil), drums (kendang), cymbals (cengceng), bamboo flutes
(suling), and rebab. Using these instruments, the ensemble produces
a bursting sound (the meaning of the word kebyar) rich, dynamic,
and complex music.14
Costumes. The costumes for Topeng are based on the male
characters of the classical Gambuh dance drama. Known as the
sesaputan, the basic costume is composed of many pieces of cloth
worn together in many layers. Among the most important items of the
Topeng costumes are: an ornamented split robe (saput) covering the
body (from chest to knee), a pair of white trausers (jaler) and a white
waist cloth (kamen), a belt, a dark jacket, a pair of leggings, a
decorative back panel, decorative collar, a pair of long aprons, a pair
of epaulettes. Each dancer wears a dagger or kris across his back.
The headdress used in Topeng encompasses the crown-like
head-dress or gelungan used by the principals, a wig or sobrat, and
head cloth or udeng for servants and clowns. Some clowns may also
use hats, caps, or even army beret.15

In the old days more likely two ancient gamelan, Gong Kembang Kirang and Gong Gede, were
used. Nowadays, while some villages may use gamelan Gong Luang, Semar Pagulingan, or even
gamelan Angklung, most villages use gamelan Gong Kebyar.

I Wayan Dibia. Selayang Pandang Seni Pertunjukan Bali (Bandung: Masyarakat Seni Pertunjukan,
1999, p.127.

The most commonly crown-like headdresses used in the Topeng are called
cecandian and keklopingan for ministers and guards, and lelungsiran for the king.

Offerings. The offerings for Topeng performance is quite
elaborate. Topeng dancers believe that their masks posses soul and
spirit of the respective characters. They always treat the mask with
high respect by always keeping them in an appropriate or special
place, and make regular offerings to them, at home and at the
performance site, before and after the performance.
There are at least two sets of offerings usually required in every
performance: an offering for the head-dresses (banten gelungan), and
an offering for the musical instruments (banten gamelan). Used before
and after the performance, these offerings can serve to consecrate the
stage. Topeng dancers also use offerings to spiritually invoke blessing
form gods and deities, and to request permission from spirits who
occupy the performance area. The offerings done at the beginning of
the performance are to invoke and invite the divine spirits of the art to
descend and embody the materials of the art. At the end of the
performance, offering is used to send the spirits back to the upper
The important purpose for conducting rituals is to attain taksu,
the spiritual power for stage appearance. The presence of taksu will
not only alter the artistic quality of the performance, it will also
transform the actor into the character he or she plays. Taksu
transforms all raw materials, the mise-en-scenes, of the drama into a
live art production. It is through the presence of taksu that the
performance can be elevated above a mundane performance. While
there is no set formula for attaining taksu, rituals are certainly one of
the most essential means for Balinese artists to invoke and awaken
their taksu.

Topeng in Performance
Topeng is essentially a theatre performed by actor-dancers
wearing masks. The artistic beauty of its performance lies in, and very
much determined by, the ability of its actor-dancers to give breath and
soul to their masks by utilizing the right movements, voice, actions,

and energy. Making the mask come to life in fact the key to the
success of the Topeng performance. Topeng dancers usually operate
this principle not by simple putting their masks on but through a
process of transformation they become the characters represented by
the masks. In a sense, the actor-dancers enter the world and life of
the masks.
Broadly speaking, the formal structure of Topeng performance,
as operated in Topeng Pajegan, Topeng Panca, and Topeng Prembon,
encompasses two parts: the introduction or panglembar, and the
enactment of the story or lampahan. Topeng dancers consider the
introduction as a place for them to demonstrate his virtuosity through
pure dance movements.
Introduction. Traditionally the first part of Topeng performance
features two main characters; the strong or topeng keras and the old
man or topeng tua, both of which wear full masks and speak no
dialogue. The first character appears with a red or brown face
denoting strength and courage. He wears elaborate headdress of
different shapes. The second character appears with a white or light
creme face, with white wig. Their dancing around the stage space
symbolizes the spreading of energy to the entire performance space.
Enacting the Story. The second part of Topeng performance
begins with the appearance of the clown servants, the panasar, roles
of two brothers who wear half-masks, who speaks mainly Balinese,
who are at once the storytellers (panasar-s). The penasar pave the way
for the entrance of the king, and more importantly to set the flow of
the entire play. The older brother (panasar kelihan) begins by singing
his tale behind the dance curtain. Stepping into the stage arena, he
regales the audience with glorious facts about his Lord and his
kingdom, and his joy at being able to work for the king. Only then he
drops hints about which king, what century and which place he is
talking about. He then calls for his younger brother, (panasar
cenikan), whom he always blames as being invariably late and lazy,

despite the fact that it is the younger brother who philosophizes and
educates the audience.
These two traverse around the stage space discussing the issues
of the day, always with humor that leaves the audience chortling. It
is their responsibility to keep the story line going as well as integrate
modern references into the ancient stories (such as too much
development or the annoyance of so many hand phones ringing while
they are trying to tell the story). Thus, the audience can appreciate
both worlds at the same time. This way, the actor-dancers impart
important religious and moral issues without sounding too pedantic.
The two panasar bring up the problem or issue at hand: a
princess has been kidnapped, land has been stolen, a large ceremony
is to be held. Then the music suddenly changes and the two go into
supplicating postures, sitting on the floor cross-legged with their
hands set in respective poses.
The Dalem (king) then appears between the two halves of the
curtain; his flowered headdress quivering. His movements are dainty
and refined and his mask a light cream color with mother-of-pearl
teeth shining below his trimmed moustache. He sits on the top of a
chair back to show his status. He then approaches his servants and
tells them through gestures what needs to be done. One panasar
speaks for the king (as it is difficult to speak through a full mask, and
also unseemly for such a refined character), and the other
simultaneously translates into colloquial Balinese so the audience can
understand. The King then takes his leave.
Then the two brothers decide that they must gather their forces
to assist them, whether it is an army or the people of the banjar
(hamlet). Here the clowns (bondres) come in, with multiple layers of
teeth, stutters, gimpy legs, deaf ears, monkey faces and so on. They
may represent either the followers of the enemy of the king. The actor
who plays the panasar stays on stage while his younger brother and
one of the actors who played an introductory role, or even the actor
who was the king, changes masks and headgear backstage and comes

back on and engages in a dialogue. The brilliance of Balinese
improvisation really shines here as the actors banter back and forth
on issues of the day, contemporizing events that happened hundreds
of years ago and making fun of everybody from priests to cabdrivers to

Function of Topeng Performance

In Bali, nearly all performing arts are presented following the
tripartite conceptwali, bebali, and balih-balihan.16 In brief, the wali
arts include all sacred and religious art forms which are traditionally
performed as an integral part of the ceremonies. Bebali arts consist of
all ceremonial arts, usually dramatic in nature, which are staged to
complete the ceremonies. Balih-balihan arts are composed of non-
religious or secular arts that are performed as public entertainment,
almost without time and space restriction.
Based on this concept, Topeng Pajegan performance falls into
wali and bebali arts (Topeng for ritual) traditionally performed for
myriad of ritual and religious ceremonies. Topeng Panca, Topeng
Prembon, and Topeng Bondres belong to balih-balihan arts mainly
staged for a secular entertainment, sometimes in conjunction to
religious activities.
Topeng for Ritual. As wali or bebali arts, the performance of
Topeng Pajegan normally takes place inside the temple, near the
sanctuary, and within the area of the ceremony, along with Wayang
Lemah (ritual Shadow Play), and during the same time the priest
conducting the ritual. The arts serve as an obligatory part of the
ritual, and the performances are intended to please the invisible
audience; the gods and deities temporarily reside inside the temple;
and deified ancestors.
In the Hindu Bali culture, sacred religious includes different
kinds of rituals and ceremonies collectively called as Panca Yadnya.

The tripartite conceptwali, bebali, and balih-balihan was a result of the 1971 art conference
sponsored by the Bali Provincial Government. But one of the best work explaining this concept is
Kaja and Kelod Balinese Dance in Transition (1981), by I Made Bandem and Frederik Eugene deBoer.

The five main ceremonies are dewa yadnya (ritual to the gods and
deities), resi yadnya (ritual to the priests), bhuta yadnya (sacrifice to
bhuta kala), pitra yadnya (rituals to human souls), and manusa
yadnya (rites of passages). Among the most important Panca Yadnya
ceremonies to which Topeng performance is associated with are:
temple ceremony (odalan), cremation (ngaben), weddings, tooth filing,
and other rite of passages. Due to the importance of the Topeng to
these ceremonies, many people in considered a ritual to be incomplete
without Topeng performance.
Topeng for Entertainment. As balih-balihan arts, the
performance of the Topeng Panca, Topeng Prembon, and Topeng
Bondres traditionally takes place just outside the temple, or inside a
village hall, inside a theatre, other stage in hotels, and at other places.
As secular art forms, although their performance may be also in
conjunction with the religious ceremonies listed above, the primary
goal of the performance is to entertain the human audience. Since the
performance will take place in a secular space, outside the temple, the
public can attend the performance.
During the rite of passage ceremonies, such as wedding
receptions, tooth filing, etc., Topeng Bondres may be also performed in
a house yard. In the modern time, it is very common for a Balinese
family to have brief Topeng Bondres performance before inviting the
guests to eat. The performance, with less than an hour long, is mainly
to entertain the guests.
Topeng performance may be included in many secular events.
Among these events are: village fair or rame-rame which may be
organized after harvests, or during the inauguration of a new building
and other public facilities; national fair or pasar amal, a regional or
national celebration sponsored by the government like Indonesian
Independence Day; and the Annual Bali Arts Festival, Pesta Kesenian

Despite the rapid change of Balinese culture, Topeng continues
to have special place and it is still highly valued by the Balinese. This
is partly because Topeng performance is required in myriad of the
Hindu-Bali rituals, and Topeng performance appeals to all social
statuses in Balinese society.
If Topeng will face some obstacles, one of them will be the
decreasing use of the Balinese language (bahasa Bali). During the
1970s, after the removal of the Bahasa Bali program from the core
curriculum of school programs, Balinese students have been
encouraged to speak more Bahasa Indonesia at school and most
classes are taught in this language, rather than Balinese. Meanwhile,
people of the middle class tend to prefer speaking in Bahasa
Indonesia even at home with their families and relatives. The decline
of Balinese language is actually a threat to all forms of traditional
Balinese performing arts.
In response to the changing artistic taste of the modern
Balinese audience, due to the influence of the modern culture on Bali,
Topeng dancers continue to introduce new ideas into their
performance by selectively adopting elements of contemporary
cultures without neglecting the Topengs aesthetic principles. This
has been one and the most effective strategies of Balinese artists in
perpetuating their traditional performing arts amidst the globalization
process of Bali.


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Singapore: Periplus.

I Wayan Dibia
I Wayan Dibia, born in Singapadu village of Gianyar, is an artists and scholar
specializing in Balinese performing arts. Trained in a family of artists, he has studied
various forms of classical Balinese dances from different masters on the island. From
1970, Dibia started to experiment with elements from traditional Balinese performing
arts to create new works for a contemporary audience. He has choreographed
numerous new dances and dramas, and his innovative art works have gained high
recognition and have been featured in many important events and art festivals in
Indonesia as well as overseas. He has written a number of books and articles, and he
has toured to Asia, Europe, Australia, and The United States of America. He joined
the faculty of dance at the State College of Indonesian Arts (STSI) Denpasar in 1974,
received grant from the Asian Cultural Council New York in 1982 to do his MA in
Dance, and from The Fulbright Hays in 1987 to pursuit his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian
Performing Arts, both at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). From
1997 to 2001, he served as the Director of STSI Denpasar. While teaching at STSI
Denpasar, Mr. Dibia has recently opened a house for performing art creativity,
GEOKS, in his home village.