No stranger to Maya Dance Theatre, Danang Pamungkas, is a choreographer and professional dancer who has performed on many international stages..
Danang was introduced to the world of dance when an art student, Suwondo, visited his village to conduct research for his undergraduate thesis. While doing his surveying, Suwondo also offered free dance lessons for Banyuanyar children.
After junior high school, Danang attended the Classical Art High School (SMK I) for boys and girls in Surakarta. There he studied Javanese classical dances, covering Surakarta and Yogyakarta styles.
In his third year at school, Danang won the trust of several senior dancers, such as Suprapto Suryodharmo, Nungki Nurcahyani, Eko Supriyanto and Djarot B. Darsomo, and he was asked to join their shows. He further developed his relationships with fellow artists when he entered the Indonesian Arts College (ISI), Solo, in 1999. In college, Danang began creating his own pieces. His first was Gulung, followed by Gliyong (2000), Trance (2001), Dograg (2002), Gaung (2003), Panyot Pun Padam (2004) and Diujung Pintu (2005). For Gliyong, Danang was chosen as first runner-up at the Choreography Festival in Yogyakarta, while Panyot Pun Padam won first place in the National Choreography Contest held by the Jakarta Art Council.
In 2005, he performed with South Korean choreographer Sen Hea Ha at Uijeongbu Music Festival and Modafe Art Festival in Seoul, South Korea, and at the Singapore Art Mart. He also began staging his own shows in several Asian and European countries and participated in and helped organize workshops with international choreographers, including Yukio Waguri from Japan and Stephanie Thierch from Germany. He was also involved in various dance performances with wayang suket (grass puppet) master Slamet Gundono, and he has collaborated with the English National Opera and the Shubert Theater in the United States.
His professional career ascended further when in 2007 he was one of 10 young Indonesian choreographers chosen to participate in a workshop put on by Taiwan’s famous choreographer Lin Hwai-min. A year later, Danang signed a three-year contract to dance with the Cloud Gate Dance Theater, a prominent dance group in Taipei. Beforehand, he had to train for six months in classical ballet, traditional dance, martial arts, tai chi and the techniques of Martha Graham, a modern dance pioneer from Pittsburgh in the United States.
"The technical capacity of the Cloud Gate dancers, especially their flexibility, was remarkable. They’re real geniuses. I got a lot of knowledge from my three-year stint in Taiwan. But I decided to advance my career at home instead of extending my contract.” said Danang.
Upon returning home from Taiwan, Danang received a grant from the arts foundation Yayasan Kelola, and he later composed Beat, which was shown at the Indonesian Dance Festival 2012. In Beat, he combined modern body release techniques with Mangkunegaran palace-style Javanese classical dance.
In April 2009, he performed in Opera Jawa Selendang Merah (Red Scarf Javanese Opera) created by noted film director Garin Nugroho. After his latest performance at the Festival Indonesia in Tokyo, Danang is making preparations to collaborate with several choreographers of the Maya Dance Company in Singapore slated for mid-October.
Danag recently performed and was chorepgrapher for the silent movie, Setan Jawa.