Possibly the most popular dance in Bali is the Legong dance. This classic Balinese dance, which is accompanied by the sound of gamelan, has become the foundation for the basic routines of many Balinese dances. The original Legong is danced by two teenage girls who haven’t yet reached maturity and was developed in the palaces in Bali during the 19th century. The story goes that a prince of Sukawati had a dream where he is dying of some sickness. In his dream, he sees two girls…

TEXT & photo by kartika d. suardana

Possibly the most popular dance in Bali is the Legong dance. This classic Balinese dance, which is accompanied by the sound of gamelan, has become the foundation for the basic routines of many Balinese dances. The original Legong is danced by two teenage girls who haven’t yet reached maturity and was developed in the palaces in Bali during the 19th century. The story goes that a prince of Sukawati had a dream where he is dying of some sickness. In his dream, he sees two girls dancing gracefully with their young and flexible bodies, all accompanied by the harmonic sounds of gamelan. When the prince regains his health, he reenacts his dream in a dance repertoire.

Audiences normally miss the fact that during a Legong performance, there is also a dance called Condong, which is usually the prelude to Legong. Condong is usually performed solo and the dancer wears a similar costume to that of the Legong dancers but the colour is different – rather than gold, she wears pink. The dancer also wears a headdress, which takes the form of antlers and is made from frangipani flowers. Even though it’s a prelude, the Condong performance in its entirety takes about seven minutes.

The routines of the Condong dance share similarities with Legong, but it doesn’t depict a story like Legong. Condong dancers must master several Balinese dance techniques, because most of the routines are difficult. The routines include imitating a bamboo tree being blown in the wind by squatting low and swaying the upper part of the body gracefully as well as the distinctive movement of the eyes which creates different facial expressions from one routine to another. At the end of the performance the Condong dancer usually presents a pair of fans to the two Legong dancers before finally withdrawing backstage.!

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Kartika D. Suadarna

Padma
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