The Janger Dance: From the Rice Field to the Sea
In the creation of art performances, the Balinese have been inspired by everything in their surroundings, including nature, myths and legend. In fact, some daily activities have been brought to the stage in the form of eye catching dance performances.
Before the massive growth of tourism in Bali, the Balinese people used to live on agriculture and fishing. Those living on higher ground were farming whilst those on the coastal areas were combining farming and fishing. Working on the rice field or at sea was also a way to socialise with friends and extended family. Many music arrangements and dances are born during the lunchtime or coffee break as they sit together enjoying the delicacies brought from home.
Janger is one of dance that is still performed today; some choreographers have put a modern twist on it making the dance fit to current trends. However the soul remains, it is a youth social dance performed by a group of girls and a group of boys. Janger is a combination of singing and dancing, and spiced up with flirtatious routines in between. Usually the performance depicts a love story, but sometime they also insert important social message into the lyrics.
I Ketut Merdana, a dancer from the Buleleng Regency – the north part of the island positioned between the rolling hills and sparkling ocean – lives in the area where the ocean is part of a local’s life. Merdana was inspired by the visuals of fishermen going about their business on their boats. In 1960, he created a dance that continues to make his hometown proud, Nelayan Dance (fishermen dance).
Tari Nelayan, usually performed by a group of female dancers, act like fishermen dressed up in beautiful Balinese traditional mens costumes. The routines are the blend of Bali’s basic dance routines and the gestures that are visually displayed by the fishermen when they fish in the open ocean. All the routines are nicely knit to tell a story. When you watch the dance, you can easily imagine how it looks like when the fishermen work through each routine. The performance begins with rowing a boat, followed by throwing a net, pulling the net back, and ends happily with carrying the catch of the day to the shore.
How would the dance look like if your occupation was transformed into dance?