Legong Dance Ubud Bali
The dance of legong tells a story. It is the most feminine dance. It is usually danced by two females before they reach puberty (in fact, they must retire by the time they reach puberty).
We recently attended a Legong-style performance at the 16th century Ubud palace. The “palace” in terms of a performance space may not be what you’d expect — it’s simply the palace courtyard, a large flat area filled with plastic chairs and blocked from prying eyes by tarpaulins strung around the outer edge. The stage is a raised platform however, so you can quite easily see the performance even if stuck behind someone tall. Either side of the stage is flanked with members of a gamelan orchestra, whose frenzied, rich music warms the crowd up before the first glittering dancers appear.
The dance started with these two dancers moving slowly with their eyes closed immersing themselves in the rhythm of the Gamelan. The dancers moves were in perfect sych of the Gamelan, increasing pace as the rhythm picked up. The dancers moved from rigorous activity to moments where they stood still – but here too they expressed through subtleties like fluttering fingers and rapid eye movements. Legong dance is performed by girls who have not yet entered puberty. Childrens are trained from a tender age of 5 and by the age of 14 are ready for retirement as a Legong performer!
Then followed a solo dance, mostly that of a king or someone prominent. The emotions conveyed in his dance gave the feeling that he was showing proudness, elegance or royalness.
The programme we saw was a series of careful, colourful performances, beginning with Puspa Wresti or the welcome dance. Next up, a mask dance (with rather freaky Mona Lisa eyes on the mask, let me tell you), then Kebyar Duduk from northern Bali, the sacred Kupu Kupu Tarum, or butterfly dance, and then a version of the famed Legong Kraton. To be a Legong dancer used to be the pinnacle of a Balinese dancer’s success — but it was a pinnacle reached before the age of around 14, by which time a girl would retire.
Photo Gallery Balinese Legong Dance
Dance performances are held all around Ubud and its outskirts, but we saw a Saturday night performance by the Bina Remaja Troupe, beginning at 19:30. Ticket sellers mill around the top of Monkey Forest Road, opposite the palace courtyard, and though it seems a tad dodgy, you simply pay your 80,000 rupiah to them for your ticket (prices can vary for different events), which is actually the programme or brochure (reading “ticket” on the front).
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