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16 november 2011 08:38

Traditional Dances Proposed to be World’s Heritage

Traditional Dances Proposed to be World’s Heritage
Bumbung Dance

Jakarta - The Indonesian government has proposed to UNESCO nine traditional Balinese dances to be recognized as world’s heritage and be included in the organization’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a senior ranking official disclosed.

“The request and proposal had been submitted last March,” Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economic head of center for cultural research and development, Priyadi, said.

He said the dances represented the rich and diversity of Balinese traditional dances. They also reflected the categorization of the Balinese traditional dances into Wali (sacred dances), Bebali (semi-sacred dances) and Balih-balihan (dances for entertainment’s purposes).

“The dances possess unique characters, compositions and movements. We hope that by proposing the inclusion of these dances into the intangible cultural heritage list, the Indonesian and global public’s awareness toward the importance of traditional dances’ conservation would increase,” he stressed.

The inclusion of the proposed dances into the list, Priyadi disclosed, would also prevent other countries from claiming those dances as their cultural heritage.

In the past, Malaysia’s claims over several of Indonesia’s cultural heritages, including traditional Pendet dance from Bali, had caused a public uproar.

“The UNESCO’s [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] decision on these dances is scheduled to be announced early next year,” he added.

The wayang puppet theater and kris wavy dagger were the first Indonesian cultural heritages made it into the UNESCO’s list in 2008, followed by batik cloth and cloth-making techniques in 2009 and angklung bamboo ensemble in 2010.

“However, compared to the other nations, the number of Indonesian cultural heritages on the list is still small. The central government will gradually increase the number of cultural heritages submitted to UNESCO’s list,” Priyadi said.

Provincial Historical and Cultural Values Conservation Agency head I Made Purna said the proposed dances represented nine regency-level regions in the island.

“We want all the regions being represented in the list. Actually, all the nine proposed dances exist in all those regions. However, certain dances are usually associated with certain regions due to the esthetic excellence displayed by the artists of those respective regions in performing those dances,” he said.

The selection of the dances to be submitted to UNESCO, Purna disclosed, involved prominent scholars and community figures, including Prof. Dr. I Made Bandem, arguably the most authoritative scholar on Balinese performing arts.

The proposed sacred dances are Klungkung’s Rejang, usually performed by young girls in temple’s festival, Karangasem’s Sanghyang Dedari, performed by young girls in a state of trance depicting the heavenly nymphs, and Bangli’s Baris Gede, depicting lance-wielding warriors.

The proposed semi-sacred dances are Tabanan’s Topeng Pajegan, a masked dance in which one performer plays several different characters, Gianyar’s Gambuh, the ancient dance drama believed to be the mother of all Balinese dances, and Buleleng’s Wayang Wong, a masked dance drama with simple movements and stories inspired by Hindu’s great epic Ramayana.

The proposed traditional dances for entertainment purposes include Denpasar’s Legong Kraton, a majestic dance that underlines the Balinese dance’s elaborate movements, complicated gestures and glittering costumes and Jembrana’s Joged Bumbung, a joyous, and often sensual, dance performed by beautiful female performers to the accompaniment of dynamic bamboo ensemble.


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