top of page

North of Java - Sakti

"What is remarkable is how Heppner manages to express so much physicality in such a small space."

Paula Citron

Globe and Mail, Toronto, May 13, 2003

description of work

North of Java - Sakti: Description of work

Guismiati Suid of the Gumarang Sakti dance company and Maxine Heppner were inspired by each others' work from their first meeting in 1990. Ibu Suid was a visionary of Indonesian contemporary dance contemporizing the powerful movement and martial arts of West Sumatra Minangkabau that was the foundation of her own dance expression. Ibu Suid often invited Maxine to her artists' residence in rural Depok, south of Jakarta,  to view and participate in the Gumarang Sakti process. These exchanges deeply influenced Maxine particularly regarding notions of cyclical time and the power of contained energy.  


After a productive exchange in 1998 with Maxine studying the sources of Gumarang Sakti movement with Davit Fitrik and Yassy Aprianti, the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta commissioned  Gusmiati and Maxine to make a full evening work as a co-creation. Two creation periods were set for  1999. The first 3 weeks in Depok yielded exciting music and dance foundations for the work. Just as the two companies were to regroup in Toronto, Gusmiati shockingly passed away. After the mourning period Gumarang Sakti company was temporarily dismantled. A year passed before the project could begin to be re-structured. A deep investigation between 2 creators and their dedicated interpreters became a much broader collaboration. Maxine with interpreters Susan Lee, Jessica Runge, Louis Laberge-Cote, and composer Andrew Timar as music director, came from Canada to continue the creative work with Davit Fitrik and Beny Kusimardi from Gumarang Sakti as well as Eko Supryanto (known from a UCLA project) and Chendra Penatan and Mira Tedja (from past Kreativitet work) in residence at the generous Studio Hanafi to finish the work in honour of Ibu Gusimiati Suid.

The Jakarta premiere of Sakti (meaning sacred) was in 2002. The Toronto premiere was sytmied by both political and economic crisis in Indonesia barring the Indonesian dance and music collaborators from travelling, So the piece was reworked with a Toronto cast and Maxine renamed the work North of Java (both the name of Timar's musical composition, and a reflection of the work's journey), premiering this iteration in 2003 at the celebration of 50 years of Canada-Indonesia friendship and cooperation the the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan playing live.


North of Java - Sakti: reviews

Globe and Mail, Toronto May 13, 2003


An ancient culture defined

REVIEW By PAULA CITRON Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - Page R2

Canada/Indonesia Friendship Concert at du Maurier Theatre Centre in Toronto on Sunday May 11, 2003


To mark the anniversary of 50 years of diplomatic relations, Indonesia's consulate-general in Toronto presented a concert featuring Canadian performing groups who have been influenced by Indonesian culture. Toronto choreographer Maxine Heppner joined forces with the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan in original works, while Montreal sent its traditional gamelan orchestra, Giri Kedaton. For the Indonesians in the audience, it must have been a surreal experience to see their ancient culture interpreted by North American upstarts.


North of Java,  choreographed by Maxine Heppner and composed by Andrew Timar, is a more dramatic piece for six dancers (Louis Laberge-Côté, Susan Lee, Eryn Dace Trudell, Karen Kaeja, Hiroshi Miramoto and Tina Park). The music is a combination of taped nature sounds and live instrumentation, with the dancers confined to a small square of light as if we are focusing in on a one-minute microcosm of the jungle. What is remarkable is how Heppner manages to express so much physicality in such a small space. Sometimes, the dancers are in forceful synchronization, at others, they fall away into small or single groupings to portray arresting images of insect and animal life, or dense vines and tangled vegetation. One wonderful picture has the six leaning into each other like a giant worm. Another presents startled birds created by clever lifts. The piece works because of Heppner's precision timing and her clean, clear articulation of movement.


North of Java - Sakti: Credits


           Ibu Gusmiati Suid,

           and the artists of Gumarang Sakti and Minangkabau Sumatra


Maxine Heppner 

early development with Guismiati Suid


in  Indonesia

early creation:

      Davit Fitri, Yassy Apriati, Benny Krisnawardi,

      Susan Lee, Karen Kaeja, and Gumarang Sakti musicians

TUK premiere:

      Chendra Penatan,   Mira Tedja,   Benny Krisnawardi

      Eko Supriyianto,   Susan Lee,   Louis Laberge-Côté,   Jessica Runge



      Louis Laberge-Côté, Susan Lee, Jessica Runge, 

      Eryn Dace Trudell, Karen Kaeja, Hiroshi Miramoto, Tina Park


composed by Andrew Timar

performed by Evergreen Club Contemporay Gamelan

Jakarta TUK premiere with singer Ubiet (Nyak Ina Raseuki)

creation process with players of Gumarang Sakti

Set and Costume Design

Maxine Heppner 

Thanks to

Canada Council for the Arts, Consulate of Indonesia in Toronto, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Gumarang Sakti artists & company, Studio Hanafi, TUK, elders of Minangkabau, Maria Darmaningsih, Tony Probowo, Hanafi Muhammed, Adinda Luvianti, the continuing support of Farida Oetoyo, and the guiding spirit of Guismiati Suid.

Please reload

media gallery

North of Java - Sakti: Media Gallery

Maxine Heppner - North of Java
Maxine Heppner - North of Java
Maxine Heppner - North of Java
Maxine Heppner - North of Java
Maxine Heppner - Ibu Gusmiati Suid
bottom of page