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Balinese Dance Characteristic

Posted under: Bali History

On Java dance is in large part the prerogative of the courts, but on Bali it's a living, popular art form, most active in the villages. On Java a fine classical dancer is frequently a member of the sultan's retinue. On Bali, a dancer is an ordinary villager with unusual skill who performs pleasingly before the gods for community prestige, for the entertainment of friends and family, and for tourists for money.

Balinese dance is much influenced by Javanese dance movements, which are a mirror of the Javanese wayang kulit theater in which all emotion is expressed through rigidly controlled gestures, the eyes unfocused, the lips closed, and the face fixed and mask-like as if the actor were a marionette. In both female and male dancing, the limbs form angles with the head sinking down so far that the neck disappears.

At other times, the eyes flicker and dance. In Balinese classical dance, all movements and limbs are very expressive the face, fingers, wrists, neck, eyes, hips, knee, feet, ankles. Unlike in India, the majority of Balinese dance movements tilt of the head or twist of the fingers are decorative and do not carry any specific meaning.

The exceptions are the pronounced gestures thaf convey anger or prayer; nose kissing, greetings, and impassioned speeches, which have their inherent emotional meanings; or those that obviously represent daily tasks, such as opening a curtain, holding a cloth, or weaving.

Balinese dance is subtle, drawing the audience into the dancers world. Simultaneously, it is blatantly erotic. Female postures are characterized by bent legs held close together, open feet, off-center shoulders, and spines curved to sensuously push out the buttocks. A dance teacher can often be heard reminding her students to strike provocative poses.


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