Didik Nini Thowok

Didik Hadiprayitno, better known as Didik Nini Thowok, is one of Indonesia’s most well-known dancers, choreographers, and mask performers. His performance style carries on a tradition of Javanese female impersonation by a male dancer, which originated in Javanese palaces in the eighteenth century with males playing females because of Islamic ideas on the impropriety of women mixing with men in the same performance. Didik’s study of cross- gender performance throughout Asia and the world fuels his playful, modern performance, which involves solo mask dances that combine mysterious androgyny and comic sexual impersonation.

Didik Hadiprayitno was hosted by the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies during February and March 2004. During that time, he conducted workshops on a range of topics, including dance traditions of Sunda, Java, and Bali; masking traditions of Java and Bali; and Southeast Asian transgender traditions. He also presented class lectures, worked with students, and participated in public performances. The Department described him as a “truly energizing presence on this campus,” and noted that he was able, while here, to discuss aspects of his research that cannot be revealed in Indonesia at this time, particularly the persecution and massacre of transgender shamans and performers in 1965- 1967 by the Indonesian military regime.