Javanese and Balinese Dance
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The Javanese and Balinese are two distinct Indonesian dance classifications and although they do have some similarities in form, execution and cultural context, they are relatively diverse in content, movement and tempo. The diversity of Java and Bali dance is due in part to the distinct influence of their historical environments as well as to the differences in the cultural attitudes of each region, both of which present important elements for understanding the individuality of each cultural group and its dance.
Classical Javanese dance is classified as a cultured and refined art form that can have divine origins as well as educational merit. At the same time, it is an art form that is responsible for bringing a large degree of pleasure to the Javanese. Classical Javanese dance is most often executed during specific ceremonies or festivals that mark significant religious or social occasions. Even more, Javanese dance extends beyond mere choreography to include influences in the region's art and literature. Its relation to historical environments is manifested in its revelation or representation of heroes, heroines and other historical figures.
Javanese dance is a prime example of choreography as an art form based on or related to how or by whom the dance is performed. Not all Javanese dances may be performed by both male and female dancers. In fact, a unique element of Javanese dance is that it is often restricted to execution by only male or female dancers. Even more, Javanese dance forms often vary based on whether or not they are executed under a rehearsed or improvisational setting. For example, the beska is a highly stylized maneuvering while the nandhak is an unrehearsed and less formal dance composition. In the context of by whom the dance is performed, there is the example of the tandhak or ronggeng, which denotes the professional female dancer, similarly called the street-dancer, who provides public entertainment with a band of musicians that accompany her.
Balinese dance is often equated with the Javanese dance form however it has its own unique qulaitites that set it apart. While Java and Bali dance share a similar dance technique of out-turned and bent legs as well as arched and gesturing hands, there are differences such as the following:
- Bali dancers are more frequently attired in elaborate costumes
- Bali dancers exhibit a more taut and rigid figure. This is especially true of Balinese male dancers.
- Male Javanese dancers do not exhibit the same mesmerizing and disquieting concentration that male Balinese dancers demonstrate in their dance.
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