October 11, 2014

INDONESIA (Lesser Sunda) - Three genres of traditional dance in Bali (UNESCO ICH)

Balinese dance is a very ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people of Bali island. Dances are performed by male and female dancers dressed in traditional costumes consisting of brightly coloured cloth painted with gold floral and faunal motifs, with gold-leafed and jewelled accessories. The dances are inspired by nature and symbolize particular traditions, customs and religious values.

They combine a variety of different movements including a basic posture with the knees outward and the stomach held in, locomotive movements in different tempos and directions, transitional movements with dynamic changes, and facial expressions with eye movements revealing happiness, sadness, anger, fear and love – all accompanied by the music of the gamelan. In addition to being technically-skilled dancers, performers must have charisma, humility and discipline and a special spiritual energy that enlivens the performance.

In Balinese communities, dances are mainly transmitted informally to children from an early age, within groups. Training begins with basic dance movements and positions and progresses to more intricate dances. The sessions continue until the students have memorized the sequence of movements. Traditional Balinese dances provide participants with a solid cultural identity grounded in the understanding that they are safeguarding the cultural heritage of their ancestors.

In Bali there are various categories of dance, including epic performances such as the omnipresent Mahabharata and Ramayana. Certain ceremonies at village temples feature a special performance of a dance-drama, a battle between the mythical characters Rangda, the witch representing evil, and Barong, the lion or dragon, representing good. Among the dance traditions in Bali, the following deserve special mention: Barong, Baris, Cendrawasih, Condong, Legong and Kecak.

There are three genres of traditional Balinese dance, which includes Wali (sacred dances), Bebali (semi-sacred dances) and Balih-balihan (dances for entertainment purposes). UNESCO recognizes Three genres of traditional dance in Bali, as Intangible cultural heritage in 2015. The three genres are represented by nine dances, which describes its function and living tradition in Balinese community (the ones with links are presented on my blog):
Wali Sacred Dances
  1. Rejang (Klungkung District)
  2. Sanghyang Dedari (Karangasem District)
  3. Baris Upacara (Bangli District)
Bebali Semi sacred Dances
  1. Topeng Sidhakarya/Topeng Pajegan (Tabanan District)
  2. Gambuh dance drama (Gianyar District)
  3. Wayang Wong dance drama (Buleleng District)
Balih-balihan Entertainment Dances
  1. Legong Kraton (Denpasar City)
  2. Joged Bumbung (Jembrana District)
  3. Barong Ket "Kuntisraya" (Badung District)

Balinese dance - Wikipedia
Three genres of traditional dance in Bali - UNESCO official website

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