Gumarang Sakti

Article Projects
additional name:
Gusmiati Sakti, Boi Sakti
gender, Islam, modernity, tradition
Performing Arts (dance, martial arts)
Asia, Southeast
created on:
May 22, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since September 22, 2008. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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 Gumarang Sakti
Gumarang Sakti


Precise, gentle power

Guismiati Suid, founder and spiritual leader of the Indonesian martial arts-dance troupe Gumarang Sakti, was born in 1936 in West Sumatra, and is considered one of the foremost female modern dance choreographers in Indonesia. After her death in 2001 her son Boi Sakti assumed leadership of the ensemble.
Born in1936 in West Sumatra, the dancer and choreographer Gusmiati Suid is a member of one of the world’s very few ethnic groups which have developed a matrilineal social system while adhering to Islam. As dance was primarily reserved for men, Suid took up the martial art Pencak Silat, which was open to women as well. It became the foundation of her style. In 1972 she founded her own company, which she named after the magic horse in an old legend: Gumarang Sakti.

The backbone of her own creative method is formed by the traditional expressive form of martial arts, Silat, and dance, Randai – the communal dance theater of the Minang people – combined with the philosophy of Adat (the customs of the Minang culture) and Islam. Gumarang Sakti’s translation of these traditional forms into modern ones has generated a vocabulary of falls, kicks, gestures, turns, breathing, focus and eye movements which forms an alternative to the classic, modern and contemporary dance methods in Europe and America.

After her death in 2001, her son Boi Sakti assumed the leadership of the ensemble. He began to learn dance from his mother at the age of 17 and then studied dance at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts. His works have been performed in Asia, the USA, Australia and Europe, and he has worked with many internationally-acclaimed artists, including Joachim Schlomer of the Tanztheater Basel. In 1991 he won the Bessie Award for Contemporary Dance, one of the USA’s most prestigious awards, for his choreography. The combination of sensitivity and precise, gentle power is characteristic of Boi’s style.

“The choreographic works infuse classical forms with the psychology of today to create an absolutely contemporary expression... It is almost impossible to believe without seeing it for oneself!" Jochen Schmidt enthused in Ballett International.

In the House of World Cultures Boi Sakti and the Gumarang Sakti Dance Company presented a choreographic work for 14 dancers and musicians: "On the Old Road" (Di Jalan Tua) is inspired by the work in the rice paddies. The imaginative, heavily symbolic piece is a metaphor for the present situation in Indonesia, which must be worked like a dried-up rice paddy to make it fertile once more. The drought is symbolized by ten cubic meters of white sand specially brought from Bangka Island in Indonesia.

(Translation: Isabel Cole)


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.


Transforming the arts

(30 May 02 - 14 June 02)