Nezia Azmi ’03

I got into the gamelan (Indonesian orchestra) world via dance. And it was my experience at Wesleyan that gave me that first step.

I was homesick a lot in the early semesters, so I would sit in the World Music Hall while doing my reading, because the Javanese gamelan playing always reminded me of Jakarta/Southeast Asia. One day I was asked to join the end-of-semester concert as one of the masked clown characters (it was a crash course by Maeny and Harjito). A bit of a funny story - my face was the only face small enough to wear the mask snugly. Up to that point I never had any Javanese dance training. 

I've kept dancing ever since then. At Wesleyan I did both Javanese and Balinese. But my training post-Wesleyan was primarily Balinese (couldn't find a Javanese teacher while in NYC). I also got a job as a project manager at Synapse, a marketing company that came to Wesleyan to recruit. I learned my business marketing craft there. At the same time, I was studying and performing with the Balinese gamelan at the Indonesian consulate. I met a couple of ethnomusicologists also playing in this gamelan, who themselves are also Wes-trained, which eventually led me to go to grad school in Hawaii to delve into Southeast Asian performance/cultural studies (this was when I met my future husband), which led me to Rhythm in Bronze when I moved to Kuala Lumpur. And here I am now. (In fact, one of the Rhythm in Bronze players will be leaving for the U.S soon - she will be doing her PhD in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan with Fulbright funding, yay!).

Wesleyan opened the first doors for me. It opens doors for many people.