Javanese Traditional Dance

The Javanese dance performance is really extravagant and beautiful art show of high class quality. The beautiful dance, the elegant performers, the colorful dresses, the magical gamelan music, the pendopo stage create a perfect combination of uncomparable art performance. The dance movements of Mataram Kingdom I in the 8th to 10th century, might be the same as the ones carved on the Borobudur and Prambanan temples.

For those who understand the philosophical meaning of the dance, it should easily feel the boundary of mystical Javanese life

As told in the article of Wayang Wong or Orang, the Javanese traditional dance or Wayang Wong has been flourished during the reign of King Airlangga & King Hayam Wuruk of Majapahit Kingdom. The topic was about the Jenggala Kingdom. The traditional dance which actually has been introduced in the seven or eight century of Mataram Kingdom I, was mainly purposed for ritual ceremonies. Latter on, it developed also as a dance for a show and entertainment.

Since this early period the dance had been devided to be: court and people’s dance. A traditional dance was performed among other to mark the transfer of a certain area by a King to certain influential man, as a gift by the king to appreciate his good services. As a result thereof, this area became "Daerah Perdikan" was freed from tax payment. It could be traced that the dancers or the dance group received some pieces of gold as their reward. There were also professional dancers, men and women alike to entertain the public.

The traditional dance which later on adapted the stories of Ramayana and Mahabaratha visualized the character of human beings, reflected in the movement, gamelan accompaniment, dresses, accessories, make up, the stage etc.

Classical Court Dance
The famous court dances which are available up to present date are Bedoyo and Srimpi.

Bedoyo is sacred court dance performed by nine girls-dancers. All the performers must be in the holy state, physically and souly, this is a mythological dance depicting the meeting between Panembahan Senopati, the first ruler of the Mataram Kingdom II with Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, the powerful and beautiful goddess-the Queen of South Sea. The gamelan accompaniment reflecting the voices of sea wind and other natural voices.

For those who has learned in depth mysticism, during the dance performance, a tenth "invisible" dancer appears. It is said that she is a very beautiful princess, dancing impressively elegant. Some said that Bedoyo dance is sacred, as it is symbolizing a meditator’s highest achievement during samedi (medititation) by closing 9 human orifices & deflating all bad desires.

This dance is also a sacred dance performed by four girls-dancers. Sri means a king or queen, Impi means desire, wish. The wish to live in honor and peace. The Srimpi dance originally performed in the Pendopo (open hall) of Javanese mansion with four main pillars in the middle. It is believed when Srimpi dance is performed correctly, it should give magical power. The dance has a very soft movement depicting a good moral behavior. The dancers have the same dresses and make up, wish that people not to be jealous one to another. The life of mankind should be in accordance with the nature consisting of fire, water, wind and soil.

This dance describing a part of a story e.g the fight between two warriors e.g Srikandi against Larasati. In the Petilan dance it could describe a fight between two warriors or movements of adoration between two lovers. In fact the movements are almost the same, only the topic is different. Probably the movement in love or in a fight, sometimes is slow and the other times flares up.

Classical Court Dance:

Besides the Bedoyo, Srimpi, Petilan, Wayang Wong, Sendra Tari (Dance Theater of Ramayana, held in the yard of Prambanan Temple), there is also classical dance opera, Langen Mandra Wanara .

Joglosemar Online is grateful to Mr. Bambang Pudjasworo and Ms. Hermien K, Javanese dance lectures of ISI – Institute of Arts, Indonesia, Yogyakarta. This basic explanation of Javanese traditional dance should be written more completely later on. (Suryo S. Negoro)

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