Award Citation

Professor R. M. Soedarsono is a prominent Indonesian dancer as well as a scholar who opened up a new era of Asian Arts Studies based on western academic perspectives.

Born in the ancient city of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia in 1933, he was trained in the dance from childhood. As a legitimate inheritor of Yogyakarta-style dance, he has been actively engaged in performing not only in Indonesia but also abroad since 1958.

After receiving an M.A. in Cultural History from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Professor Soedarsono served as director of the National Dance Academy in Yogyakarta from 1963 to 1980. During that period, he also undertook various activities in Europe and the U.S., including, for example, a lecture in Paris in 1967 and the study of modern dance and ballet at the University of Hawaii with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1969, he was offered the post of visiting artist by the University of California, Los Angeles, and wrote the highly-praised dance drama, "Ramayana". In addition, in 1970, he produced the dance drama "Gadjah Mada" based on the motif of the ancient kingdom of Java, which was followed by many other similar dance dramas. Professor Soedarsono's dance dramas were different from traditional Javanese which use narration and words, and, instead, represent a new form of music-dance-drama based on the form of the Western ballet. The introduction of this novel form of Javanese dance has earned him high praise.

In 1983, his research was compiled in his doctoral dissertation, "Wayang Wong: The State Ritual Dance Drama in the Court of Yogyakarta", which was published in 1984 by the Gadjah Mada University Press. It is the result of thorough research on Yogyakarta-style dance drama in Central Java, encompassing the disciplines of history, the arts and literature. Subsequently, this research made an internationally important academic contribution to Javanese Arts Studies including dance dramas.

After his teaching experiences abroad, he assumed various important posts in Indonesia: Chairman, the Research Project for National Culture; Vice Rector, Indonesian Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta; Chairman, Consortium for the Arts, Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia; Professor of the History of Arts and Culture, Gadjah Mada University; and from 1992 to 1997, Rector, Indonesian Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta. In addition, he has been a board member of the Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology since its foundation in 1993 by music scholars from the countries of this region, and has participated in international scholarly activities.

Professor Soedarsono has engaged in various activities ranging from performing, including creation of dance dramas both at home and abroad, to research and teaching. In particular, his wide-ranging overseas activities have made important contributions to international exchange through the arts and culture, and thus, make him a truly worthy recipient of the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes.