Arts and Culture


Like most of the performing arts of the Orient, dance in Indonesia is believed to have had its roots in religious worship. Even today, many dances are considered sacred or can be traced back their early spiritual associations. Among these are not only the temple dances, such as the Bedoyo Ketawang of Solo, performed only on such rare occasions that they are in peril of becoming lost due to the lack of young dancers able perform them. Dance traditions today are as widely diverse as the various ethnic cultures of which they are part. Nurtured to refined perfection in the royal Javanese courts, the classical dances of Central Java are highly stylized expressions which had probably already attained their basic movements during the height of the Hindu-Javanese culture, from the 8th to the 13th century. Those dances eventually reached the common people, who gave them a more spontaneous form of expression. In the hand of the people, these dances provided a rich source not only for popular dance dramas, but also for social dances, which often display clear erotic overtones, such as Tayuban or Ngibing. The bumbung dance of Bali evolved into the beautiful into the beautiful "Bumblebee Dance" and "Tamulilingan", a creation of Bali’s late maestro, I Mario. Other popular folk dances still display strong magic associations, as in the "Kuda Lumping Horse Dance". Whereas rigid discipline and artistry mark the dance of Java and Bali, those of Sumatra, Maluku and most of the other islands are characterized by their gracefulness and charm, a distinction which is further accentuated by non-gamelan musical accompaniment. The old traditions of dance and drama are being preserved in the many dance schools which flourish not only in the courts, but also in the modern, government run or supervised art academies.

For comparative study and enjoyment, the introduction of serious western art forms is also being encouraged through performances sponsored by private organizations or foreign missions, as well as by government supervised institutions such as Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Art Centre in Jakarta.

More on Arts and Culture:

Performing Arts Handicrafts
Javanese Ballet Ketoprak
Balinese Dance
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