08 October 2013

Some unknown Balinese dances

The lifestyles of Balinese people is expressed in their dance. Not only do we learn about the Balinese religion from their dance creations but also we can come to understand the flow of cultural events and activities that belong to everyday life. We can discover Balinese attitudes, how they look at nature, and how they regard their fauna and flora.

The very essence of the Balinese culture is dance and drama, which is performed during temple festivals and in ceremonies. The dances performed in hotels is a small fraction of what Balinese dance has to offer. Balinese dance goes as far back as Balinese written history with much of the heritage originating from Java. Ironically, as a result of the Islamisation of Java, the Javanese culture has disappeared but has still survived in Bali and has become part of classical Balinese culture.

Balinese dance cannot be separated from religion. Even the dances for the tourists are preceded by many dancers praying at their family shrine for taksu (inspiration) from the gods. The typical posture of Balinese dance has the legs half-bent, the torso shifted to one side with the elbow raised and lowered in a gesture that displays suppleness of the hands and fingers. The torso is shifted in symmetry with the arms. If the arms are to the right, the shifting is to the left and vice-verse. Most people know the Legong, Barong and Kecak dance, but here some not so well know Balinese dances

The Ramayana
The story of the Ramayana greatly inspires the Balinese. Many of their dances are based on this great story which is often depicted in a ballet. The Balinese version differs from the Indian Version.

Tari Panyembrama
The Panyembrama is probably the most popular Balinese social dance. In keeping with its meaning in the Balinese Language, Panymebrama is frequently staged to welcome guests of honour who are making a visit to this islands of the Gods. During the dance, flowers are scattered over the guest or audience as an expression of welcome.

The Yudapati Dance
Yudapati is a dance which depicts a male character but is performed by female dancers. The word Yudapati is derived from Yuda which means war and Pati which means death. The dance represents the kamikaze warrior in defending the truth. It is based on the Baris dance.

The Ghopala Dance
This dance provides the audience with an interesting insight into the lives of people who live in a simple and pure manner in an environment of blissful tranquility. This dance usually performed by five boy dancers. The characters of the Ghopala dance are especially funny and will draw laughter from the audience.

The Semarayana Dance
As we know, there exists many art forms such as music, painting, poetry, drama, sculpture, etc. and, of course, dancing is yet another and is a popular form of expression. Artists will take a certain aspect of a medium, build on it to form another. This is the case of the Semarayana dance. The main character is Dewi Chandra Kirana, a princess from the kingdom of Daha who disguised herself as a male youth so she could venture out and seek her beloved who had disappeared without a trace.

The Sanghyang Jaran Dance
The unique feature of the Sanghyang Jaran dance is the courage of the dancers who in a state of Kesurupan or trance, calmly step and trample on red hot coals just as if they were walking in cold water. This dance is believed to have the power to invite the gods or sacred spirits to enter the body of the dancers and put them in a state of trance. It dates back to the ancient Pre-Hindu culture, a time when the Balinese people strongly believed that a dance could eliminate sickness and disease. The is dance is usually performed in the fifth or sixth month of the Balinese traditional calendar as it is believe that during these particular months, the Balinese are vulnerable to all kinds of illnesses.

The Gebug Ende Dance
The Gebug Ende is a combination of dance and trial of prowess. It is usually performed by two to sixty male dancers who dance and fight on stage in pairs. Each dancer/fighter carries a one and a half meter long rattan stick as as a weapon and a shield called an ende. During the performance the two men try to beat one another with the stick while using the ende to protect themselves. The dance is called Gebug Ende as it literally means beating the ende or shield. One cannot afford to make mistakes in this dance as otherwise injury results.

Legong Trunajaya - The dance of love and emotion
The Trunajaya dance describes the emotions of a young man through love and passion. The dance movements reflect the theme of courtship and love. Truna meaning 'single' and jaya meaning 'to win' immediately gives an understanding of the dance. Ironically, the dancer are young women who take on the role of young men. The women wear a 'destar' normally worn by men and an unusual loin-cloth called a 'kancut'. The Trunajaya is normally danced by a single female but sometimes two, dancing together in synchronous movements and to the mesmorotic sounds of the 'Gong Kebyar', a fast, rhythmic beat which goes in harmony to the dance. The dance is from Singaraja, Northern Bali.

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