Mencari Mata Candi

16.19/05 > 20:30
17.18/05 > 18:00

Mencari Mata Candi means Looking for temple eyes.

Indonesian choreographer Mugiyono Kasido is creating a solo from traditional bas-reliefs from the Prambanan Temple, one of the most beautiful “sculpted books” of the Hindu art dedicated to Shiva. He believes “these petrified figures are lying dormant, awaiting a new interpretation”.

An outstanding dancer, Kasido awakens them. On stage he converses with his traditions – a musical gamelan and shadow theatre feature. From a temple in Java to a chapel in Brussels, these sacred gestures glide towards a new form of danced language.

Conceived & Directed by:

Mugiyono Kasido


Mugi dance-indonesia

Music composer:

Antonius Wahyudi Sutrisna

Set Designer, Sound & Lighting:

Iskandar Kama Loedin

Visual art & multimedia:

Edi Priambudhi


Antonius Wahyudi Sutrisna, Sunardi, Sri Mulyana


Yanuarius Hari Sinthu

Costume Designer:

Bambang Mbesur Suryono & Mugiyono Kasido

Production coordinator:

Honggo Utomo



Supported by:

Ambassade d'Indonésie à Bruxelles

Special thanks to:

Mie Cornoedus, Joker Toerisme


Les Brigittines-Bruxelles, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Back to top

What was it exactly that you experienced, read or saw that triggered off the idea behind your creation?

For Mencari Mata Candi I was inspired by own experience and in particular the experiences I had when I was heavily involved in a research project led by university researchers from Europe and Asia1 with Professor Edi Sedyawati of Jakarta University. It was a two-year project on the reconstruction of danced movements engraved into the wood on the outer balustrade of Candi Loro Jonggrang in the Prambanan temple complex.

As a dancer and choreographer I joined this inter-university project in 2000 and studied the temple’s bas reliefs under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Edi Sedyawati.

This space in the temple with its specific atmosphere became a kind of natural studio for my work. Here I practised understanding the reliefs by testing the sensitivity of my own body and all I had acquired during five years of following a creative process and training.

The inspiration for Mencari Mata Candi (Looking for temple eyes) comes from a three-way experience: reading, watching and ‘communicating’.

This process of absorption was very strange: it was about creating and recreating a new idiom of dance from within my own body. A sufficiently flexible idiom to incorporate past and present, an idiom that also enabled me to respond to the demands of a contemporary audience preoccupied with the desire to forge continuous links between yesterday and today.

Why did you focus specifically on the bas reliefs on the outer balustrade of the Candi Loro Jonggrang?

The bas reliefs carved on the temple balustrade play an important role in inspiring my choreography. They don’t actually tell a story but represent a series of dance poses. During my research I tried to combine the postures in these bas reliefs like words in a choreographic phrase, and I transformed them into living movements.

They aren’t stories but represent worlds visualised by the temple’s architecture. The Prambanan temple is divided into three vertical parts:

a. the base of the temple which describes ‘the lower world’, where man is gnawed at by vices

b. the main part of the building that describes ‘the middle world’ where man says goodbye to his profane life

c. the top of the temple depicting ‘the upper world’ where the gods live.

I tried to visualise this notion, imagining the story of the life cycle of a human being.

In Mencari Mata Candi you also include the Indonesian tradition of shadow theatre. What do these shadows represent, which figures, which characters and what story do they tell?

I actually use shadow theatre to develop the plot of this story, but I also use its codes as symbols and metaphors. The presence of Gunungan at the beginning of my production is an example of this. In shadow theatre the puppeteer always brings on Gunungan first to begin the story. His appearance marks the start of the performance. I’ve adapted this type of concept in Mencari Mata Candi to visualise the first stage of a person’s life: birth.

In another scene I introduce the legendary character of Shiva. In shadow theatre shows the appearance of this figure always provokes destruction, misery and death to lots of people.The diversity of danced movements in Mencari Mata Candi is actually based on the bas reliefs of the Shiva temple in Prambanan, but my production and its props were inspired by other temples.

Can you remind us who Shiva is, what his story is and his importance in Indonesian culture?

According to the Trimurti doctrine of Hinduism, the most respected god is Brahma as the creator of the universe, then there is Vishnu as the protector, and lastly Shiva as the destroyer of the universe. However in Indonesia Shiva is the most popular god. In Java he is assumed to be the highest god amongst gods which is why some believers see him as the Mahadewa.

Shiva the Mahadewa is characterized by having several attributes. His throne is embellished with a skull figuration above a crescent moon. He has a third eye above his forehead and four hands. He wears a snake shoulder belt as his caste symbol and wears a tiger skin shirt. His hands hold a trident, a fan, a rosary, a lotus and a circular object which is assumed to be the seed of the universe.

Is Mencari Mata Candi positioned literally or metaphorically in the context of the society in which you live?


In what way?


I come from Indonesia and have always been aware of the Prambanan complex. My body and mind were conditioned to absorb literature about temples and their bas reliefs which contributed positively to my movement memories later on. Most of the movements used in this work are the expression of the ‘translation’ of these memories: there are therefore lots of opportunities for these variations of movement to be the natural combination of different elements of my Indonesian culture.


The metaphor is contained in the concept of the plot and the story of Mencari Mata Candi.

Can you tell us what the importance of the Prambanan Temple is in your culture?

It is clear that the existence of the Prambanan temple and other temples is a scientific asset that ought to be studied much more deeply. This historical heritage maintains an essential relationship with Indonesian culture. Unfortunately today it is more of a tourist attraction than a cultural one.

Why have you specifically chosen dance as a means of expression?

I come from a puppeteer family. Before attending high school I joined my grandfather’s shadow theatre group. I often think about how difficult and hard it is to be a puppeteer. Every time my grandfather was asked to be a puppeteer he had to prepare a lot of equipment, such as the gamelan puppet. And to perform the shadow show you need a lot of people, especially musicians. My decision to choose another discipline was influenced by being aware of these difficulties, and dance became my means of expression. The main instrument is our own body and we can always use it anytime and anywhere. This was the simple thought I was concerned with at the start, without considering that sometimes we need other people’s support to visualise our own expression and make it happen.

In your opinion what should the ideal role of dance be in contemporary society?

I think dance should be able to develop without this development being subjected any kind of restrictions or rules.

What do you value most in human nature?


What do you hate the most?


What do you consider to be the greatest frustration?

Losing your rights.

What do like doing most?

This is a very simple question but I need time to reply.

1. With Dr Alessandra Lopez y Roy Iyer (Senior Lecturer in Dance at the University of Surrey, Roehampton), Dr. Pinna Indorf from CASA, National University of Singapore (NUS), and Dr John Miksic from the Southeast Asian Studies Program of NUS. They had been awarded a research grant to work with Dr Edi Sedyawati, Director of the Center for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences of the University Indonesia, Jakarta.

Back to top