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Legong is one of Bali’s most exquisite classical dance forms, characterized by tightly-bound gold-leaf costume and flower arrangements on a gilded headdress that quiver with every head movement and shake of the shoulders. There are many kinds of Legong, those that are purely dance forms and those that have a story, all are enacted through highly abstract, stylized movements, with the dancers typically changing roles whenever need to, but without changing their costume.
With its basic movements originated from the ancient art of the Javanese-origin dramatic dance Gambuh, as well as the Sanghyang trance dance, Legong dance is believed to be a mystical creation derived from a series of dreams that occurred in the life of a Balinese prince around the turn of the 18th century. Over the centuries, Legong has become one of the most classic and celebrated secular dances of Balinese culture, with dramatic content as well as non-dramatic presentation.
Legong as a classic Balinese dance has got a complex vocabulary of motions full of vibration, alternately bending and breaking, gentle yet strong, and structured in a frame of gestures – a ‘pakem’ – accompanied by the dynamic sounds of the gamelan Palegongan percussion. As Indonesia’s precious heritage, Legong is now part of the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, along with eight other Balinese traditional dance forms.
About Bengkel Tari AyuBulan
Bengkel Tari AyuBulan, or AyuBulan Legong Dance Group, is a dance troupe founded in 1992 by Indonesia's Legong maestro, Dr A. A. Ayu Bulantrisna Djelantik. The dancers share the same devotion in learning and performing the divine art of Legong. From day one, the troupe has strictly applied the unique and rare dancing style that was originated in Peliatan, a small village near Ubud, Bali. The Peliatan style is very distinctive as it is more dynamic, with a bent body posture, quickening of speed, rapid side-stepping, and flickering gestures that accentuate and break the otherwise long, swaying movements. The troupe dancers actively rehearse, perform, and create Legong for present-day stage, without compromising the essence and standard movements of the classical Legong.
Today, Bengkel Tari AyuBulan focuses on the preservation of a rare cultural aspect that even most Balinese have long since forgotten: by learning, teaching, and performing classical Legong dance choreography, enhanced with the most passionate motivation to keep this precious cultural heritage alive.
Throughout more than 20 years of togetherness, the dancers have been practicing and performing numerous Legong dances in both classical form as well as new creation, in various stages all over Indonesia and abroad – in countries such as Russia, China, France, the Netherlands, Vienna, Thailand, Japan, and many times in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.
Legong as a World Heritage
9 Balinese Dances Become World Cultural Heritage
By the 4th of December 2015, UNESCO has declared nine Balinese traditional dance forms as Intangible World Heritage. The nine dances that have become part of the list of Intangible World Heritage are Barong Ket, Joged Bumbung, Legong Keraton, Wayang Wong dance-drama, Gambuh dance-drama, Topeng Sidakarya, Baris Upacara, Sanghyang Dedari, and Rejang (source: Antara News Bali).
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