Dancing Shadows

Appropriate for grades:
Subject areas: English Language Arts History and Social Studies Visual and Performing Arts

Wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance of Indonesia is among the oldest and greatest story-telling traditions in the world and lies close to the heart of Javanese culture. Wayang kulit are flat, leather puppets elaborately decorated and perforated, casting intricate and dramatic shadows when performed. This highly refined art form commemorates important life cycle ceremonies and a variety of social events. Performances are usually based on classical literature such as the Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana with contemporary issues incorporated into particular scenes.

Teaching / Learning Goals:

Teachers and students will …


  • To understand how wayang kulit, Javanese shadow puppets, are used in Java to tell epics stories which include references to contemporary life (historical and cultural understanding).
  • To learn about the materials and methods used to create wayang kulit (perceiving, analyzing, and responding).
  • To find their own solutions in the process of creating shadow puppets by exploring materials, shapes, patterns, forms, and color (creating and performing).


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