Cristina Wistari Formaggia, 1945-2008

Cristina Wistari Formaggia, 62, died peacefully of cancer in her hometown of Milano, Italy on 19 July 2008. She is remembered as a long time participant, performer and teacher at Magdalena Project events, and also for her dedicated contribution towards the preservation of classical Balinese performing arts.

Cristina Wistari Formaggia was born in Italy in 1945 and lived in Bali since 1983. Since 1987 she travelled extensively throughout Asia researching arts as embodied in ancient traditions. She studied Kathakali, the South Indian dance drama, for two years. On reading Antonin Artaud's essay on Balinese theatre, she was drawn inevitably to Bali and its rich Hindu culture, complex rituals, and metaphysical dance theatre. The study of Topeng, the masked dance drama, was a catalyst for further development. Besides Topeng, Cristina studied Gambuh, a court dance of the 15th century, the most ancient form of Balinese dance drama, and Calonarang, the dance drama of magic. In 1985 she commenced dancing in the temple ceremonies, thus participating in the archaic rituals in which dance is an essential element. During the last decade she has devoted herself to the preservation, research and documentation of Gambuh, the most ancient dance drama of Bali and she has published a collective work on this classical art (Gambuh, Lontar 2000).

On 2 September 2008 at 6.30pm, a ceremony was held at Punta Magna, Salina, Italy, to return Cristina's ashes to the sea. This was a place where Cristina used to swim. Her sister Alberta and husband Gigi, and her brother Ettore, performed the ceremony.

Click here for photos of Cristina.

Tributes: click on the names below to read each person's tribute, or scroll down for pdf versions of the tributes.

Cristina Wistari and Topeng dancers performing in "Ur-Hamlet", Odin Teatret, 2006

PDF icon Julia_Varley.pdf29.37 KB
PDF icon Brigitte_Cirla.pdf24.66 KB
PDF icon Ana_Correa.pdf25.5 KB
PDF icon Rucina_Ballinger.pdf45.34 KB