Insights > Pioneering Indonesian theatre director recognised
29 Jun 2012

Pioneering Indonesian theatre director recognised


For Citra Pratiwi, dancer, choreographer, arts researcher and activist, tradition is always open to new interpretations and innovation. She was the recent recipient of the Empowering Women Artists Award by the Kelola Foundation, an organisation devoted to promoting Indonesian artists through providing funding and training. Kelola’s work is funded by the Ford Foundation, Hivos and other supporters.

The Empowering Women Artists Award was established to honour women who have made steady contributions to the arts in Indonesia. A graduate of the Indonesian Institute of Art in Yogyakarta where she majored in Ethnomusicology, Citra is concerned with the issues of Indonesian women, a theme that permeates most of her work.

She is currently the artistic director of The Migrating Troop, a network of performance artists based in Yogyakarta. Her latest work, titled The Pussy Foot: Learning To Make Fire, is a dance theatre piece she created in collaboration with Singapore writer and researcher Haseena Abdul Majid. Staged in May 2012, it illustrates criticism of religion and violence targeting women, hot topic issues in Indonesia recently. The work was staged in Yogyakarta and Singapore.

Citra refuses to be pigeonholed into a specific genre and works with artists from many different disciplines, a practice she pursued after taking part in ASEF’s Pointe to Point: Asia-Europe Dance Forum programme, held in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2009. She says, “Even though it was a dance programme, it allowed us to translate dance in so many different ways. It encouraged me to incorporate various genres, such as installations, videos and sounds, into my work.”

She continues,
“Most of my collaborators come from various backgrounds. They include sound artists, visual artists, researchers and many others. The Pointe to Point Dance Programme made me rethink my ideas about collaborations. I learnt how to connect ideas from different backgrounds into one coherent concept in creating a performing art piece.”


One of her sources of inspiration is how young Indonesians develop, mix and present traditional ideas with global trends today. She explains,
“I am proud of how the traditional cultural identity remains strong in the young people in my country. As I see in the current performing arts scene and aim to show in my works, the traditional is a source of new artistic creation.”

Another source of inspiration is her home city of Yogyakarta. “I’m so lucky that I live in Yogyakarta - this city has so many good artists and there are lots of artistic happenings here. While it has strong traditional cultural roots, it has also grown a wonderful contemporary art scene. This dynamic led me to research the connections between the modern and the traditional.”

On receiving the Award, she credits the personal and artistic growth she has experienced since taking part in Pointe to Point. “It has been already three years but it was a wonderful experience. Thanks to this programme, I developed many new ways of thinking and it gave me confidence as an artistic creator. From the beginning, this programme pushed me, to create new things and gave me the courage to step out of my usual comfort zone.”


Citra Pratiwi was born in Pati, Indonesia, on 31 October 1981. A mom, activist and artist, Citra works and lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. A graduate of the Department of Ethnomusicology, the Indonesian Institute of Art, Yogyakarta, she is concerned about women issues in Indonesia, which is reflected in most of her work. She is the artistic director of The Migrating Troop, a performance network based in Yogyakarta.

Kalaivani Karunanethy is Communications Officer with the Cultural Exchange Department at the Asia-Europe Foundation.