The musicians of Bali’s traditional orchestra, Gamelan Gong Kebyar, start playing softly, while at the same time the high-pitched voices of a female choir singing a Balinese song reaches the audience from behind the stage. The female choir, who also dance throughout the performance, is known as Janger, and the male choir, called Kecak, accompanies them. The diversity of tone and rhythm, mesmerizing dancers beautifully dressed and made-up, and an…

Text and Photos by Kartika D. Suardana

The musicians of Bali’s traditional orchestra, Gamelan Gong Kebyar, start playing softly, while at the same time the high-pitched voices of a female choir singing a Balinese song reaches the audience from behind the stage. The female choir, who also dance throughout the performance, is known as Janger, and the male choir, called Kecak, accompanies them. The diversity of tone and rhythm, mesmerizing dancers beautifully dressed and made-up, and an animated entrance all combine in a high impact opening.

Janger is a youth social dance normally performed by a group of girls with a group of boys. The dancers sing and perform the dance routines simultaneously, a creative and unique mix between dance and music. The story is usually presented as a love story, complete with the initial flirtation of courtship and the inevitable relationship problems. Sometimes a social issue is also raised by inserting an important social message into the lyrics. Even though the dancers are singing, the Gamelan still plays an important role in creating a lively and upbeat ambience. 

The song and the dance routines of Janger are a great attraction, but even more so, are the beautifully decorated costumes worn by both the female and male dancers. The costumes glitter under the spotlights, enhancing the beauty of the dancers and adding more “soul” to their art. 

No one really knows when Janger was performed for the first time, but the emergence of the dance is the result of the development of youth choirs, formed by the Banjar. A Banjar is a traditional, local organization in Balinese society, which plays a very important role in the life of the Balinese as individuals and social beings. Janger dance performance, the dance routine, the song and the wardrobe, differs depending on which regency the dancers are from; for instance in Tabanan, Janger dance performances take their influence from the Dutch Colonial Era and in Metra Village, Bangli Regency, the Janger dancers are said to go into a trance state during their performance.

Where to watch the performance? Ubud Water Palace, every Sunday at 7.30pm. 

 

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Kartika D. Suardana

Awarta Nusa Dua
Royal Purnama
Anantara Seminyak

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