Bagong Kussudiardja's 89th Birthday

Bagong Kussudiardja’s 89th Birthday

On this date in 1928, Bagong Kussudiardja, better known as ‘Bagong,’ was born in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. A world-renowned choreographer, painter, sculptor, and poet who marched to the beat of his own drum, Bagong spent his formative years studying art, music, and Javanese court dance.

After Indonesia’s independence in 1945, Bagong yearned to expand on his classical training. He started by studying Japanese and Indian dance. From 1957-1958, he trained in the U.S. under Martha Graham, the legendary choreographer famous for her boundary-breaking techniques.

Back on home turf, Bagong incorporated those modern moves to further elevate traditional Indonesian dances. He established the Pusat Latihan Tari Bagong Kussudiardja (Center for Dance) in 1958, followed by the still-thriving Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja (Center for the Arts) in 1978. And he choreographed more than 200 dances in his creative, intricate style.

But choreography was just one part of the picture. Bagong was also revered for his batik oil paintings and watercolours. He worked in a myriad of styles, including impressionistic, abstract, and realistic.

Today’s Doodle illustrates Bagong in his element — paintbrush in hand, richly costumed dancers leaping for joy. Happy Birthday to the “Javanese father of the avant-garde.”

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