Born in 1971 in Klaten, Central Java, Indonesia, Agung Gunawan is a renowned and established dancer, an artistic director, a choreographer and a vocalist.

Since he moved to the rural village of Pelem in East Java in 2008, he has been questioning and investigating the ever-changing boundaries and universal hallmarks of traditional, classical and contemporary Javanese arts and culture.  He is also seeking new forms of artistic expression engendered from ancient, indigenous Javanese wisdom and knowledge commonly used in the daily life of Pelem village.

He has received numerous nominations and awards both nationally and internationally, including 'The Best Feature Performance and The Best Choreographer' at the Cameronian Arts Awards (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 2013) and 'Best Choreographer' at Festival Wayang Wong Gaya (Yogyakarta, Indonesia:2009).

He was professionally trained and mentored for years by the legendary master Bagong Kusudiharjo and later by R.M. Ywandjono Suryobrongto and R.Ay. Sri Kadarjati in the form of classical court dance of Yogyakarta. From 2000 to 2006, he worked as an assistant  choreographer with Martinus Miroto at the Miroto Dance Company. During this time, he was nvolved in the production of 'Opera Java', a film directed by Garin Nugroho while touring across the globe.


Currently, he is based in the rural village in Pacitan City, East Java, as a co-director of Sampang Agung Centre of Performing Arts (SACPA), and a choreographer of Breathing Forest Dance Theatre while continuosly touring numerous countries for performances and projetcs.

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Co-director DEASYLINA DA ARY (PhD)


Born in Pacitan, East Java, Deasylina da Ary (PhD), started dance training at the age of five under the guidance of her father, the founder of the first local dance school at Pelem village, Pacitan.  After having graduated with a  Bachelor of Dance degree from the State University of Surabaya in 2003, she continued her studies and completed Master of Arts in 2007 She was awarded a PhD in 2017 by the Indonesia Institute of Arts, Surakarta, for her thesis on the 'Pacitanian' (Environment Oriented Art Education Model).


Deasylina's inspiration for performance making always starts from a simple yet critical observations of daily life practices in the cultural, religious and indigenous landscapes of the village of Pelem, which range from child' play, farming scenes, and the objects and tools used in daily life, from which, she argues, an original quality of aesthetics emerges. Along with the artistic and performative methodologies she has developed over a number of years, her chorographical movements, accents and rhythms largely spring from her instinctive inspiration.  That she has been able to discern the unique and distinctive movements of each dancer in the Breathing Forest Dance Theatre company, does contribute to the power and originality of her choreography.       

She is currently teaching in the Faculty of Art Education (Dept. of Elementary School Teacher Education)  at Semarang State University, while, every Sunday, she has been continuously teaching and mentoring the young dancers who will make up the next generation in Pelem village, where she is a co-director of the SACPA centre with her partner, Agung Gunawan.  

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Born in Pelem Village, Pacitan, East Java, Johan is an established musician, composer and vocalist.  His musical career started at the age of six with his father, Sukarman, and later, he enrolled in the ethnomusicology degree and was awarded Master of Music Arts Studies at the Indonesian Institute of Arts (ISI) Surakarta.


His ongoing passion is to explore the authentic and distinctive power of the sounds that each instrument and voice manifests, and to delicately interweave them into perfect sonic narratives.  His compositional approach, therefore, focuses on the feelings and senses he perceives while being around the natural environment of the rural farming village in Pelem.  Such sonic elements from the landscape can be distinguished in the local language which contains some distinctive pronunciation and also in the unique sounds of specific instruments used and made in Pelem.


The compositions he has created are divided into two forms, that is, music to accompany dance performances and music for musicalconcerts.  One of his compositions, Ruung Sarung won the 'Best Composition' award at the regional and national level (2004: Surabaya & 2005 Jakarta).

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Born in Pelem village, Pacitan East Java in 1994, Anang is an emerging dancer, choreographer and musician. He grew up being surrounded by the sound of Gamelan and learnt Gamelan instruments from his own grandfather, Maryono since his childhood. His formal artistic career began at the age of 10 when he registered at LKP Pradapa Loka Bhakti (the program for school age dancers and musicians at SACPA) to learn series of repertoires of dance and music scores under Johan Adiyatma Baktiar, Dr. Deasylina da Ary and Agung Gunawan.  

He has completed a Bachelor of Art (Dance) at the Indonesian Institute of Arts (ISI) Yogyakarta in September 2019.  One of his choreographies titled Topeng Genjring received the “Best Choreography Award” at the National High School Dance Festival 2015.


He has been involved as a technical & stage management staff and dancer in several national and international events such as; World Dance Day (2016), Jogja Java Carnival (2010),  Bedog Art Festival (2016 & 2017), Jogja Gamelan Festival  (2014), Pentas Bulan Ndadari (every year since 2013), and Pelem Festival (2016 & 2018).


Currently he has started working at the senior position at SACPA as a musician, dancer and a site coordinator.

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Takashi Takiguchi is a Japanese born dancer and producer based in Melbourne, Australia.  Takashi has worked with diverse groups of socially disadvantaged people as a qualified social worker over the past decade, and this has led him to work with Sampang Agung Centre for Performing Arts (SACPA) as an operational manager since 2015, where the community-led art school can empower young artists and promote social re-connectedness, meaningfulness of arts and local economy.


His unique background, having no formal arts degree or industry experience until the age of 38, has contributed bold and refreshing ideas for the creation of new art projects for non-artist communities with the wisdom and experience of acclaimed art practitioners in the era of 'everyone can be an artist'.

Recent projects include: ButohOUT! Festival (Melbourne 2017, 2018 and 2019) co-produced with the established Japanese Australian Butoh dancer and choreographer Yumi Umiumare; Pelem Festival at SACPA (2016, 2018 & 2020) with the Indonesian-based dancer, director, choreographer and vocalist, Agung Gunanwan; Melaka Art & Performance Festival (MAP Fest) (2016, 2017 and 2018) with the highly accomplished Malaysian born, director, choreographer and visual artist, Tony Yap.


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Lee Kien Fei (FAYE), Malaysian, an independent performing artist and a fruit crops grower. Faye completed his Bachelor of Creative Arts(Drama) in Deakin University Melbourne. He is working closely and collaborating with artists and mentors, Tony Yap, Agung Gunawan, Agus Riyanto & Takashi Takiguchi, exploring and create works that's informed by psycho-physical, Javanese Skilled Improvisation, Asian Shamanistic Trance Dance, Butoh, Voice & Visual.


In year 2017, He started to work closely with Agung Gunawan & Takashi Takiguchi, being a photographer, videographer, web designer, social media campaigner and making documentation for SACPA.

Breathing Forest Dance Theatre


Breathing Forest Dance Theatre (Breathing Forest) is a distinctive dance company officially formed in 2016 at Sampang Agung Center for Performing Arts (SACPA).  Breathing Forest consists of eight dancers who were all born and grew up in Pelem village, East Java, Indonesia, and had training there for the past decade .  The  unique movements in the choreography of their performances are inspired by the daily-life movements of the village and the interactions of humans, animals and nature. Their stage presence and movements are described as 'resilient, dynamic’ and having a ‘tranquil power of originality'. 


The Co-Artistic Director of Breathing Forest, Dr. Deasylina da Ary choreographed many performance pieces since 1998, and received numerous awards across Indonesia including Ruuung Sarung for 'The Best Performer & The Best Choreographer (National Dance Competition: Jakarta:2005) and Surup for ‘The best performer & the Best Choreographer’ at High School Competition (National Art Competition: Yogyakarta: 2009). The presence of Agung Gunawan in SACPA since 2008, who is an established  dancer with a classical Javanese dance background, has added another layer of multiplicities to the group to deepen further its 'beyond Jawa' aesthetics.


Breathing Forest offers a repertoire of dozens of short works,and a full length performance piece Dry Leaf which was premiered at both Melbourne and at the Rainbow Festival in Australia, then in India for the prestigious International Theatre Festival, Jashnebackpan presented by National School of Drama in 2018.


Whiffling of the Forest Gamelan Ensemble

Whiffling of the Forest Gamelan Ensemble (Whiffling Forest) is a music group formed in 2015 at Sampang Agung Center for Performing Arts (SACPA).  Under the direction and mentorship of the established musician and composer, Johan ADIYATMA BAKTIAR, Whiffling Forest offers distinctive and theatrical Javanese gamelan based music. 

Whiffling Forest consists of seven musicians and vocalists aged between 11 - 36 years;  Anang Setiawan, Aryasa Yusuf Pratama, Adif Jamil Pradana, Ridwan Akhrin Nurun Na'im, Deasylina da Ary (vocalist), Diana Nur Hayati (vocalist), and Johan Adiyatma Baktiar (composer). Prior to the official formation in 2015, all of these artists had been involved in performance activities as either a dancer, musician or vocalist at the SACPA for years.  That all musicians and vocalists in the group were born and grew up in the village strengthens the fact that these compositions are played with the full authentic energy of Pelem.   
The creative process of their musical works is mostly based upon experimental works of gamelan music (both vocals and instruments) simultaneously combined with elements of various ethnic music cultures and styles, such as kuntulan instruments (Banyuwangi), kenthongan (Java), patrol (Jember) and even pop music and choir. In addition, to create elements of uniqueness and novelty, the group has invented some new musical instruments, such as gumbeng, saron bamboo, and sitting gongs.
The presence of Agung Gunawan, an established dancer with a classical Javanese dance background, as an artistic mentor in the process is very important for the creation of their new compositions.  His input, constructive criticism, and suggestions provide a more distinctive and artistic quality, and deeper meaning, to the musical works.

The music repertoire of the WFGE has two streams; musical works as  dance accompaniment and musical performances. Therefore, the range of musical styles it offers is diverse, from traditional, classical to contemporary. The musical works that have been created by Whiffling of the Forest Gamelan Ensemble include Dry Leaf (2016), Genjring Mask (2015), Dream (2015), and Joged Jonjang (2015).