The extraordinary range of dance forms in Indonesia is a reflection of the country’s huge diversity of cultures and ethnicities. Originating in Cirebon on the north coast of West Java, the Topeng Losari mask dance is rooted in indigenous Javanese culture. Award-winning seventh-generation mask dancer Nani is working to revive this highly dramatic, opulently costumed tradition. Demanding exceptional agility and stamina, the mask dances (“topeng” dances) of Losari are steeped in mysticism and magic, with the belief that masks transfer special powers to the wearer. Nani always performs with her eyes closed, dancing in prayer to God, Earth and the body.
Nani in a Topeng Losari (mask dance) (Carolina Performing Arts in Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill).