There were lots of experiences I had during my travels in Bali and Java that I have yet to document.
One of these was a meeting with Jeannie Park, direktur eksekutif of Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja, a non-profit organization in Yogyakarta. Originally founded by Pak Bagong Kussudiardja – himself a renowned Javanese dancer and teacher – as a school for classical dance, today Padepokan Seni Kussdiardja is a venue for arts education, specifically designed to connected artists with non-arts communities.
Jeannie moved to Yogya from Los Angeles to study Javanese dance (she said that living in LA she never really felt alive, and in Java, she found herself pursuing something much more essential in life).
I spent much of a morning talking with Jeannie about her experiences transplanting to Java, as well as her ideas and goals since taking over Pakepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja. As director of the school/institute, Jeannie has been true to using the facilities for eduction. Home of two gamelans – both Balinese and Javanese – a wonderful stage, and studios for dance instruction, Jeannie has turned the facilities to community outreach, using art education to access and engage a broader cross-section of the culture.
Jeannie explained to me a new project and directive of the center. Recently, they’ve been invited different artists, dancers, and musicians to come and teach short but intense workshops. The workshops are unique; aside from the teachers, all of the other participates are people from communities that have little to no contact with or education in the arts – police officers, taxi drivers, etc… And rather than teaching these people to make art, the institute encourages more philosophical and abstract conversations, encouraging all of the participants to think more about the essence of art-making (I like to think we all feel that elation that comes from making art from time to time, it’s just that artists look for that feeling, indeed live for it), and how this relates to everyday life.