Let’s dance! (traditional Balinese dances – Part 1)

When visiting Bali, the island of Gods, one of the “must” for all the tourists is to see traditional Balinese dance. However, it is not so easy to do, as there are hundreds of these dances. We were lucky to come at the right time and to visit the biggest festival – Bali Arts festival, that lasts the whole month! We have witnessed at least 10 different dances and wish to share these beautiful creations with everybody.

There are several dances that are always presented for the tourists as the most sophisticated and most famous ones, such as Kecak dance, Legong dance (dance of a pair of young girls), Barong dance, etc. We believe that a dance that represents Balinese culture and its people the best is the Joged dance.

Joged dance is a so called social dance, extremely popular among people and thus never short of spectators. The organisers of the Bali Arts festival have claimed that this dance was visited the most by guests of the festival. No wonder, as the essence of this dance is a possibility for anyone from the audience to participate in it. We were surprised that whoever entered the stage to dance with a girl, whether it was a young boy, or an old man, another lady or a teenager, it seemed that everybody from the audience could dance as good as the performer.

Getting it down to details: choreographically Joged dance starts with a presentation followed by a single dance by a female artist. Then the artist invites a spectator to join the dance, usually by pointing her fan at him or her, or by gently touching a shoulder. One of the characteristics of this dance are the hips movement (ngegol and ngoncet), nevertheless the dancers are educated to keep the moves esthetic and… ethical. The invited person tries to respond to the moves of the female artist, as to form a complete duet. The female dancer will try to avoid her companion getting closer, will flirtatiously look from underneath her eyelashes, hesitantly run away. And of course, joged is filled with shivering fingers and flicking eyelashes, elements peculiar to any Balinese dance.

It seems that every Balinese is an artist. Every Balinese knows how to coordinate his hand moves with the right angle of bending his knees in accordance to rumbling gamelan. Joged dance is a perfect entertainment for proving that artistic skills are in the blood of each Balinese!

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