Rejang, a Dance of Many Guises

Secret Bali | Written By, NOW! BALI | June 2nd, 2014

“The slow and stately Rejang dance is one of Bali’s special dances. Its attractions lie not so much in the intricate movements, a la Legong, but more in the extraordinary accoutrements, in particular, the headdresses used. The dress is always graceful and elegant with the torso wrapped tightly in gold brocaded bands while long sashes of red or yellow are used as part of the performance.” The dance is always performed in the inner courtyard at temple ceremonies, so that only…

Text and photos by Ayu Sekar

“The slow and stately Rejang dance is one of Bali’s special dances. Its attractions lie not so much in the intricate movements, a la Legong, but more in the extraordinary accoutrements, in particular, the headdresses used. The dress is always graceful and elegant with the torso wrapped tightly in gold brocaded bands while long sashes of red or yellow are used as part of the performance.”

The dance is always performed in the inner courtyard at temple ceremonies, so that only the privileged may see. It is a sacral dance performed for the gods.
Each area, or even each banjar, has its own specific designs, some so intricate, that each takes days to make. Flowers are folded and moulded, tamed into unique shapes that are put together to create spectacular forms. Buds are added to create more form. Add shaky gold coated flower decorations; mini crowns with brightly coloured jewels and you have a headdress fit for a princess.

The dance itself is slow and stately, performed with grace and delicacy, which while it appears to require little technical skill, is full of subtleties that only a seasoned observer will notice. It always appears entrancing and regal. To sit in a temple ground and watch the beautiful young and heavily bedecked girls emerge in their finery, always creates a thrill.
Some of the best dances are performed in remote areas where they have kept hold of ancient traditions. Asak near Bug Bug is one of these places, Tengganan near Candidasa and both are Bali Aga Villages. Batuan and Bungaya are also reputed to have fabulous Rejang performances for those who like it.

Somebody told me once, that in the days of yore, the last dancer in the line would be kept for sacrifice, but this is a legend that most others have denied vehemently. Whichever, it all adds to the mystique of the Rejang.

The costumes are so extraordinary that they lure photographers from all over the island, creating a hot house sort of camera club climate, but it is always fun and adds to the atmosphere.!

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