BIOGRAPHY: Legong'07-Casey

Legong Condong-Casey age 11

Casey began her Javanese and Balinese dance training at the age of seven at the Center for World Music in Berkeley, California where she grew up, under the auspices of I Nyoman Wenten and Nanik Wenten. Mr. and Mrs. Wenten are a dynamic husband and wife dance duo from Indonesia. After the Wentens left the Bay Area to teach at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia, Casey's mother was lucky to find an accomplished Sundanese (West Java) dance teacher, Pamela Rogers-Aguiniga. Ms. Rogers-Aguiniga was the dance director of a Sundanese music and dance group, West Java Arts, which she founded in 1973, and was under the musical direction of the expert Sundanese drummer, Undang Sumarna. Casey performed with this group for three years, from age 9 to 12. During this time, she also attended intensive summer programs in Balinese, Javanese, and Sundanese dance at San Francisco State University in 1977; and then at UCLA , under the direction of Judy Mitoma, in 1978.

After the 1978 summer intensive program at UCLA, Ms. Rogers-Aguiniga relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her master's degree, much to Casey's dismay. Fortunately, that same year, a young and highly talented young Balinese drummer, I Wayan Suweca, moved from Los Angeles to Berkeley to start a Balinese music and dance group, Sekar Jaya. Mr. Suweca has long since returned to Bali, and is recognized as a great master teacher of Balinese gamelan today. Casey became one of the original members and dancers of the, now internationally renown, gamelan group, and performed extensively with them for eight years. Sekar Jaya is still based in the Bay Area and is considered to be the best trained gamelan group outside of Bali.

Casey was fortunate to be exposed to many great master teachers through Sekar Jaya, which has continuously  Casey on Cover of 'Indonesia Media' June'07 invited Bali's most talented artists to train their musicians and dancers. Throughout her years of training, Casey traveled to Indonesia several times to study with highly acclaimed dance instructors in both Bali and Java. The first time she went to Indonesia in 1980, she was fourteen, she lived and studied with her teacher, Ni Ketut Arini Alit one of Balis most famous dancers, for four months. This, needless to say, was a life changing experience for Casey, who had now fallen in love with the dance and culture of Bali, and whose hold on her would be everlasting.

In her late teens, Casey also became a part of a Polynesian music and dance group under the direction of Mahealani Uchiyama, which she performed with for two years before leaving for college. In 1984, she left her home town of Berkeley, and enrolled in the World Arts and Cultures program at UCLA, created by Judy Mitoma. There, she experienced as many different dance forms as she could find, in and out of the university, this included Bharatanatyam (South Indian dance), Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts/dance form), Middle Eastern, Nigerian, Ghanaian, modern, and jazz to name a few. Upon moving to Los Angeles, Casey also reunited with her very first dance teachers, the husband and wife team, I Nyoman Wenten and Nanik Wenten. She took up studying with them again and performed in their Balinese and Javanese music and dance groups based out of CalArts.First public performance-Casey age 9

Casey spent her third year of college in India, studying Bharatanatyam dance with V. Krishnamoorti, through the University of California's "Education Abroad Program". After a year in India, she continued her travels to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Bali, where she again studied dance with Ms. Arini Alit. Somewhere amidst her worldly adventures, she met her husband, and together they settled in Brisbane, Australia for three years, where their daughter was born. After which she returned to her home town of Berkeley, California and once again danced with Gamelan Sekar Jaya for two years before returning to UCLA to finish her degree. Two years and another baby later, Casey finally received her Bachelors degree in World Arts and Cultures in 1993.

Ever since returning to Southern California, Casey has stayed in the Los Angeles area and has been performing with the Wentens. She has accompanied them to Mexico, Peru, and throughout the US. She has also performed at numerous dance festivals and venues such as the International Ramayana LA Festival, the annual Lotus Festival, International Mask Festival, the 1999 World Festival of Sacred Music at the Hollywood Bowl, the 50th anniversary celebrations of Indonesia-Mexico diplomatic relations in Mexico City, the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Red Cat Theater, The Skirball Center, the Getty Center, and the California Plaza, amongst others. One of many highlights, in her dancing career was meeting and dancing for The Dalai Lama at the Hollywood Bowl for the opening ceremony of the World Festival of Sacred Music in 1999. Currently she is a dancer for the CalArts Javanese ensemble, Kyai Doro Dasih; and is dance coordinator for the Balinese ensemble, Burat Wangi. She is also teaching Balinese dance at the Indonesian Consulate in downtown Los Angeles. She resides in Thousand Oaks with her husband, daughter, son, two dogs, two cats, two lizards, and a fish.


Words cannot express the gratitude and appreciation I feel for the wonderful, talented teachers whom I have had the privilege of studying with throughout the years. Without whose patience and expertise in teaching and passing on their wisdom, I would not be where I am today. They have all been a great influence in my life, and I have gained something special from each and every one of them. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them for nurturing and developing a passion that has fed my soul my entire life. In no particular order, my deepest appreciation goes out to: Nanik Wenten, I Nyoman Wenten, Ni Ketut Arini Alit, Pamela Rogers-Aguiniga, Mahealani Uchiyama, Judy Mitoma, Medha Yodh, V. Krishnamoorti, Omowale Frances, Ni Made Wiratini, I Wayan Dibia, Ni Gusti Ayu Srinatih, I Wayan Suweca, Ni Putu Lastini, Ni Gusti Agung Ayu Warsiki, Ni Wayan Iriani, I Wayan Lendra, I Nyoman Cerita, Romo Sasminto Mardowo, Sri Susilawati, Baghawan Ciptoning, Eko Supryanto, Anang Totok Dwiantoro, and Djoko Walujo.

Photo and video credits: Christa Holmes-Junquiera (black and white, top-left corner cover), Stewart James, Mas Pur, Pak Rolfic

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