If this is your first time visiting Bali, you may have gathered some information of several interesting dances to see during your stay. Two of the most famous ones are Legong and Kecak. However, there are many traditional dances in this island. Some are considered sacred and only performed in temples during religious rituals, while other classic dances are performed on stage for special occasions. Classic dances are mostly elaborated from the sacred dance, and their routines are choreographed to display various stories inspired by myth, legends or daily activity.
Back in 1957, Nyoman Ridet, a dancer from Kerobokan created a beautiful dance inspired by a traditional fabric weaving activity. The dance, named Tenun Dance is a harmonious flow of routines displaying each step of the hand weaving process, starting from spinning the yarn, lining up the yarn and other weaving processes. Each routine explicitly resembles the real movements of Tenun weaving, but of course wrapped artistically in the foundational routines of Bali’s traditional dances. The result is a gracious and beautiful dance performance.
The Tenun dance was kind of forgotten and was very rare to see on stage. In mid September, this year, the Petitenget Festival brought the dance back to life. 2,000 ladies from Kerobokan Village performed the dance at the Petitenget beach. With more than 4000 eyes watching their every move, the sun set in the background and sank beneath the horizon. The roar of the surf collided with the harmony of the gamelan, the Balinese traditional orchestra, and the moment was magical.
Usually, the Tenun dance is performed by a group of female dancers. A well synchronised group is necessary in performing this dance. The dancers must express an emotion of happiness during the performance. As tradition dictates, a weaver should be happy throughout the process of weaving a piece of Tenun fabric, otherwise it is said that it looses its charm.
This dance is more than just a performance. It showcases Bali’s unique culture and hand weaving techniques passed down through generations over hundreds of years. The dance also symbolises the harmonious life and creative mind of the Balinese people. The Tenun Dance not only serves as an attractive performance, but also a reminder to the Balinese to preserve their traditions and culture.