What would you do when you bump into a bunch of tiny Balinese dancers practicing traditional Balinese dance when you least expect? I jumped into excitement on seeing this. A culture unlike my own. A traditional dance I have not seen. I put my camera on standby and started shooting as the girls maintained the tight composure of the body and flashed their eyes and trembled their two fingers in exact accuracy. Introducing you to LEGONG KRATON.
This classical Balinese dance portrays the symbolic of femininity and grace. Dancers are recruited from the most suitable and prettiest children usually at a tender age of five. Similar to other classical Balinese dance, there’s a story behind the dance. The story is performed by three dancers – the condong, a female attendance of the court and two identically dressed legongs (dancers), who adopt the roles of royal persons. A story teller sat with the orchestra and chanted the narrative.
To cut the story short, the King of Lasem finds the maiden Rangkesari lost in the forest. He takes her home and locks her in a house of stone. Rangkesari’s brother learns of her captivity and threatens war unless she is set free. Rengkasari begs her captor to avoid war by giving her liberty, but the king prefers to fight. On the way to the battle, he is met by a bird of ill omen that predicts his death. And he died during the fight.
The dance dramatizes the farewell of King of Lasem as he departs for the battlefield and his encounter with the bird.
There’s something peculiar about the movement in Legong Kratons. Bear in mind, I am no dance expert. Although, I used to attend classes for salsa, meringue and bachata and did one performance, I certainly have no knowledge on classical dance. But I can attest that poising torso in an arch with elbows, having head held high, moving the fingers in circles around the waist, flashing the fiery eyes and making face expression – that’s a hell of synchronization to do. And still they manage to perform with such fervent agitation.