February 22, 2013

Dance Prof Rachmi Diyah Larasati authors "The Dance That Makes You Vanish"

Theatre Arts & Dance professor, Rachmi Diyah Larasati has written Dance That Makes You Vanish: Cultural Reconstruction in Post -Genocide Indonesia. Published by the University of Minnesota Press in March, the new work explores the transformation of dance form in the highly charged political repression in her native homeland during the 1960s.

Indonesian court dance, a purportedly pure and untouched tradition, is famed throughout the world for its sublime calm and stillness. Yet this unyieldingly peaceful surface conceals a time of political repression and mass killing. Between 1965 and 1966, some one million Indonesians--including a large percentage of the country's musicians, artists, and dancers--were killed, arrested, or disappeared as Suharto established a virtual dictatorship that ruled for the next thirty years.

In The Dance That Makes You Vanish, an examination of the relationship between female dancers and the Indonesian state since 1965, Rachmi Diyah Larasati elucidates the Suharto regime's dual-edged strategy: persecuting and killing performers perceived as communist or left leaning while simultaneously producing and deploying "replicas"--new bodies trained to standardize and unify the "unruly" movements and voices of those vanished--as idealized representatives of Indonesia's cultural elegance and composure in bowing to autocratic rule. Analyzing this history, Larasati shows how the Suharto regime's obsessive attempts to control and harness Indonesian dance for its own political ends have functioned as both smoke screen and smoke signal, inadvertently drawing attention to the site of state violence and criminality by constantly pointing out the "perfection" of the mask that covers it.

Reflecting on her own experiences as an Indonesian national troupe dancer from a family of persecuted female dancers and activists, Larasati brings to life a powerful, multifaceted investigation of the pervasive use of culture as a vehicle for state repression and the global mass-marketing of national identity.

Rachmi Diyah Larasati is assistant professor of cultural theory, critical studies, and dance history in the department of Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota. She also holds an affiliate graduate faculty position there in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and is a former guest faculty at the Brown University Critical Global Humanities Research Institute.

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September 14, 2011


REMEMBERING 9/11: A Performance and Community Dialogue brought together students and faculty from across the university campus to consider how we choose to remember the tenth anniversary of September 11th. This unique production, devised and created by both dance and theatre majors, was directed by two graduate students Mike Mellas and Elliot Leffler, who moderated an engaging and thought-provoking discussion with the audience following the performance. For more details click on Minnesota Daily's news story "The Power of Memory" by Sarah Harper.

April 22, 2009

Dance Program Recognized in the City Pages' Best of Minneapolis 2009


In the City Pages' Best of Minneapolis 2009, the University of Minnesota Dance Program students performing José Limón's 1958 classic Missa Brevis was named the Best Dance Performance of a Classic. Check out the full article at

Affiliate Dance Faculty member, Marciano Silva Dos Santos, was named Best Dancer. Read the full article about his award also at

March 23, 2009

Dance Program Featured on A-List

Reporter Linda Shapiro featured the University of Minnesota Dance Program's Critical Mass performance during the ACDFA Conference, as well as their role in the José Limón Dance Company's performance at Northrop Auditorium in the City Pages' A-List. Check out Critical Mass: Professional Dance Companies at the University of Minnesota and José Limón Dance Company for the complete listing.

January 22, 2009

Sonja Kuftinec named Scholar of the College

The following is an e-mail from Theatre Arts & Dance Department Chair Carl Flink:

Dear All:

It is my pleasure to let you know that TAD's very own interim Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor Sonja Kuftinec was just named one of only two new Scholars of the College by the College of Liberal Arts! While this is no surprise to all of us who know Sonja, it is wonderful to see the College acknowledge her excellence at a time when I am certain competition for these awards was particularly high given our current economic climate.

Congratulations, Professor Kuftinec! A truly well deserved honor.