August 20, 2011

Legong Dance (Bali)

These are over 200 different  kinds of dance, many still religious, and each is a composite of not only dance, but also of drama, music, spoken, poetry, ballet. Here are some of the more popular.

Legong Dance
Considered the most dazzling of all Balinese dance-ballets. Swathed in cocoons of gold plaited fabrics, these dancers perform an interpretation of literary classic. A pair of 8-12 year old girls are chosen for their natural good looks and for their physiques. If they can be found to look alike, all the better. They are chosen before they begin menstruation because only then are they considered pure and limber enough to perform all the necessary movements. Training begins at 4 or 5, they retire at about age 13. Legong dances were once a Balinese prince’s private property. Extraordinary muscular control and great physical endurance is required in this dance. Dancers are first dressed in gorgeous costumers: head to toe in silk and goldleaf with a headdress of frangipani and earplugs of gold. Their bodies are tightly girdled from chest to hips with many meters of heavy cloth and covered with rich beautiful silks decorated with gold. This clothing helps to support their backs and gives them a graceful line.They both have heavily powdered faces with a white dot (priasan) on their foreheads which stands for beauty in dancers. Their eyebrows are shaved and given a new line with black paint. These young nubile girls dance to rapid staccato rhythms with wide open eyes, hips shifting and back arched, all of their movements executed in perfect unison. Enacting the story of Malat, the Balinese ‘Thousand and One Nights’, this is a drama of a princess kidnapped by a despised suitor.


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