What is Balinese Dance?
It is an expression of the human soul which is realised through movement of all the body in a beautiful way, accompanied by music and rhythm based on the character and theme of the dance.
In Bali, the art of dance finds its foundation in ceremonial dances which are always connected with rituals, such as those to the gods, ancestors and the forces of nature. There is no word for ‘art’ because art is considered to be a natural part of everyday life and is never specifically verbalised as one word. Balinese translated the word dance as ‘sesolahan’ and a dancer is referred to as a ‘pragina’.
Balinese dances are intimately connected with the surrounding environment. Nature has been a source of inspiration to composers and choreographers resulting in many different movements. Apart from nature, daily human body movements have also been added to the extensive vocabulary of Balinese dance, adding to its scope and beauty.
Balinese dance is very unique, dynamic and highly stylised. A dancer must be able to move every part of their body in a dance, from head to toe.
Basic Balinese Dance Movements
In general, basic Balinese dance movements can be put into three categories:
1. Agem is the basic posture that carries a certain meaning that doesn’t alter from one posture to another.
2. Tandang is a way of transitioning from one basic posture to another, joining the movements together.
3. Tangkep determines that depth of a dance; without it, it lacks soul.
Now you can study Balinese dance on your own…anywhere, anytime! The first of its kind, Mekar Bhuana’s Educational Tutorial Series features lessons in an easy to follow, step-by-step DVD format.
Since 2002, we have been working together with local dancers to preserve rare forms of Balinese dance. We specialise in learning and documenting a number of different Balinese dance forms, including legong, Calonarang, topeng and gambuh. We are also honoured to work with some of the most talented dancers in Denpasar and Gianyar including Nyoman Cerita, I Gusti Agung Susilawati, Made Suteja and I Made Suteja.
Through ongoing practices and performances, we hope to document and preserve as much repertoire as possible. We also use the appropriate gamelan sets to accompany these dances: semara patangian (pelegongan) for legong and Calonarang, not the modern gong kebyar or semarandhana; and semar pegulingan saih pitu for topeng, gambuh and pependetan.
Watch an example of Pendet dance accompanied by our antique semara patangian orchestra: