Three genres of traditional dance in Bali


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Inscribed in 2015 (10.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2014 by Directorate of Internalization of Value and Cultural Diplomacy

There are three genres of traditional Balinese dance – sacred, semi-sacred and that meant for enjoyment by communities at large. Traditional Balinese dances are performed by male and female dancers dressed in traditional costumes consisting of brightly coloured cloth painted with gold floral and faunal motifs, with gold-leafed and jewelled accessories. The dances are inspired by nature and symbolize particular traditions, customs and religious values. They combine a variety of different movements including a basic posture with the knees outward and the stomach held in, locomotive movements in different tempos and directions, transitional movements with dynamic changes, and facial expressions with eye movements revealing happiness, sadness, anger, fear and love – all accompanied by the music of the gamelan. In addition to being technically-skilled dancers, performers must have charisma, humility and discipline and a special spiritual energy that enlivens the performance. In Balinese communities, dances are mainly transmitted informally to children from an early age, within groups. Training begins with basic dance movements and positions and progresses to more intricate dances. The sessions continue until the students have memorized the sequence of movements. Traditional Balinese dances provide participants with a solid cultural identity grounded in the understanding that they are safeguarding the cultural heritage of their ancestors.