The Role of Westerners in the Conservation of Legong Dance
Abstract The image of legong—sumptuously costumed girl dancers crowned with frangiapanis— is the face of Balinese culture. Yet it is only one of twenty dance/drama genres and prominent in only some centers. Legong, a secular court dance, has often been (and still is) in danger of extinction. Balinese are now less interested in legong than ever before and musicians prefer to play other kinds of music.
Since the 1930s, legong
has been presented at tourist concerts and by ensembles touring overseas. Western expatriates have founded legong
groups and generally brokered the relation between Balinese and foreigners. Foreign scholars have studied, recorded, and
filmed Balinese performers. Balinese
scholars take higher degrees abroad and co-author books on Balinese dance with
Westerners. Balinese performers teach
across the world, while United States and Japanese student dancers in Bali
employ teachers at rates of pay locals cannot match. Legong groups tour Bali from the US and
Japan. Non-Balinese influence what
aspects of Balinese culture are promoted and sustained. The impetus for the current (modest and
localised) revival of legong seems to come mostly from non-Balinese.
Despite all this,
legong has retained its autonomy and integrity as an emblematic Balinese dance
form, and for some surprising reasons.
Key Words Balinese dance,
gamelan, gong kebar dance, legong, tourism
is a genre of Balinese dance in which (usually three) sumptuously costumed
girls crowned with frangipanis perform to the accompaniment of a metal gamelan
orchestra. Legong is more than this,
though. It is the face Bali presents to
the outside world. The image of the legong
dancer is used to advertise and promote Balinese culture to foreigners. Yet the legong dance is only one of Bali's
many genres of dance or drama and is prominent in only some areas of the island. Moreover, the survival of the legong dance
has been insecure at best. In this paper
I discuss the role of Western influence in the preservation of legong.
2. The Precarious Survival of the Legong Dance
legong dance achieved its modern form in the 1920s and 30s,
yet it was under threat from the outset.
A new type of orchestra, gong kebyar, was invented in the north about
1918. It became increasingly popular and
soon spread to other parts of the island.
It did so at the expense of the pelegongan or semar pegulingan
orchestras that accompanied the legong dance.
By the mid-1930s, many of these older
orchestras were melted down and recast as gong kebyars. Even as late as 1966, the famous pelegongan
orchestra of Binoh was threatened with the same fate.
In the early 1990s, only a
"handful" of pelegongan or semar pegulingan orchestras survived. And while the legong dance can be and usually
now is accompanied by gong kebyar, that orchestra's weightier tone and
different tuning are universally deemed unsuited to the dance.
there has never been a religious requirement for the performance of the legong
Legong is a secular entertainment, originally
for the nobility and later for the wider Balinese public. As such, it had to compete for the audience's
affection against other genres, such as Gambuh, Arja, Joged, and Janger. The village of Peliatan is one of the most
famous centers for the legong dance, but it was not always dominant there, as
the musician I Wayan Gandera explained in 1978:
From 1930-37, the legong dance was much
liked by the people and there were many
requests to perform abroad. Between 1937
and 1949, the legong dance was
not much performed and the Janger dance was to the fore. From 1949-54, legong came back into favor with the public and there were
important requests from
America [for its performance]. The Joged
Bumbung dance was preferred in 1954-58,
with the legong dance rarely done. Since
1958, the village has been active
in performing the legong dance for tourists in the yard of Puri Kaleran.
the 1980s, the challenge to legong's popularity increased. The new forms of SenDratari and Drama Gong
captured the enthusiasm of the Balinese public, and it would be remiss not to
mention the introduction and spread of television in the same period. The legong dance was already thought to be
endangered by 1974,
with both depletion in the repertoire, as the dancers who remembered the
choreographies and music died, and decline in the number of orchestras and
groups committed to its performance.
Despite a continuing dedication to the
dance in some of the centers that are famous for it—Saba, Peliatan, Binoh—the
popularity of the legong dance with Balinese has continued to wane, as is true
also for other "classic" genres, such as Gambuh and Arja. It is widely reported that musicians prefer
to play newer music and that the local audience no longer likes or understands
the legong dance. Many Balinese now
cannot follow the narrative significance of legong's highly stylized movements.
general, the Balinese prefer innovation and change to preservation and
repetition, at least so far as the secular arts are concerned. Indeed, Bali is surely among the most
culturally volatile of societies. So it
would not have been surprising had the legong dance gone the way of the Janger
dance, which in past times was enormously popular but now is little performed. In fact, though, legong has persisted and
attempts to revive it continue. Perhaps
this is due more to its emblematic status with Westerners than to inclinations
natural to the Balinese. If the legong
dance is synonymous with Bali for Westerners,
perhaps it owes its survival to its exotic attractiveness to foreigners. That is a hypothesis I explore further in the
The Export of Balinese Culture
been exposed in their own countries to the Balinese arts, especially music and
dance, for at least eighty years. When
Balinese culture was first exported from the island, the legong dance was
prominent. It was featured in the first
overseas tour by a Balinese ensemble, a composite group from the Ubud region
that represented the Dutch at the Paris Colonial Exhibition of 1931,
as it was also in the European and American tour of the Peliatan group in 1952. Subsequent international journeys by
ensembles such as Gunung Sari of Peliatan and Gunung Jati of Teges became
regular from the 1970s. And it was about
the same time that Balinese teachers of dance and music found employment
offshore, especially in the US, while a few Balinese dancers and musicians
(such as Dr. Wayan Sinti, Dr. Nyoman Sumandi, Ni Made Wiratini, Dr. Made
Bandem, Dr. Wayan Dibia, Dr. Nyoman Wenten, and others) took scholarly higher
degrees in the US.
and dance also gained Western exposure through sound recordings and films. Noteworthy among the latter is Henry De La
Falaise's Legong: Dance of the Virgins,
shot in two-color Technicolor in 1933. The
first sound recordings were made by Beka and Odeon in 1927-28 and inspired
Colin McPhee to go to Bali.
More recordings were made by the
Fahnestock brothers in 1941,
but those with the biggest impact in the West, because of their widespread
dissemination on affordable LPs, were from the 1960s and 70s and done by
Jacques Brunet, David Lewiston, and Robert E.
4. The Import of Western Influence
Bali's exotic beauty and its arts, foreign scholars and émigrés have played a
crucial role since the 1920s in brokering the relation between Bali and the
outside world. Their impact on the
direction of the arts in Bali was considerable.
For example, in the 1930s, not only was Walter Spies, with Rudolph
Bonnet, a major influence on new styles of Balinese painting, he was also
responsible (with Katharane Mershon) for commissioning the creation of the
Kecak dance as a tourist entertainment. He
was, as well, a great collector, founder of the Bali museum, and co-author with
Beryl de Zoete of the first book devoted to Balinese dance and drama.
Other long-term residents (Colin McPhee,
Miguel Covarrubias, John Coast, Fred B. Eiseman
Jr.) and anthropologists or ethnomusicologists (Mantle Hood, Margaret Mead,
Michael Tenzer, among others) have written at length in English or Dutch on
Balinese dance, drama, and music. Several
studies of Balinese dance and drama have resulted from collaborative
authorships between Westerners and Balinese.
Colin McPhee, who
wrote the most important early study of Balinese music
as well as a significant commentary on Balinese dance
was devoted to preserving the classical pelegongan repertoire; that is, the
music and orchestra associated with the legong dance. Writing of the 1930s, which he describes as a
period of great change in Balinese music, he observes: "To try to preserve in some form of
record this period in Balinese music, while older styles and methods survived,
became my desire."
McPhee arranged for musicians to be
taught the music and encouraged its revival.
participation by expatriates in the preservation of legong still continues. Yayasan Polosseni of Teges, which is directed
by an Australian, Douglas Myers, has issued a series of recordings of legong
dances performed by a replica of McPhee's semar pegulingan orchestra. Myers employs the famous dance teacher, Sang
Ayu Ketut Muklin, to pass on the old choreographies from Bedulu, where she was
taught in the 1930s. Meanwhile, a New
Zealander, Von Hatch, advertises to the expatriate community in the following
terms: "Gamelan and Dance
Association, Mekar Bhuana, appeals for donations to buy dance costumes for our
young legong dancers. Help us preserve
the endangered Sanur legong dance," and again, "MEKAR BHUANA -
Classical Gamelan & Dance - performances for Weddings, Hotels/Villas,
Events (Lessons, Wedding Costumes, Dance Costumes, Dress up, Instrument
sourcing). You will be helping to
preserve endangered Balinese art forms."
Not everyone with
an interest in Balinese culture moves there, of course. Some come to study for a relatively short
period. In addition to musicians,
significant numbers of young women from Japan and the US have arrived to study
dance. A few of these stay and
contribute to performance in the Balinese context.
The norm, though, is for these foreign
musicians and dancers to return to their home cultures and to help kindle in
their compatriots a passion for the arts of Bali.
foreign donors have earmarked funds for the preservation of indigenous art
forms. One prominent source is the Ford
Foundation. In 1974-78, it financed
study of the status of legong, documentation of the tradition (including films
of famous teachers), and attempts to revive endangered dances. One result of this initiative was a series of
scholarly studies by Balinese dancers and musicians, including Proyek Pengembangan Sarana Wisata Budaya Bali:
Perkembangan legong Sebagai Seni Pertunjukan (Project to promote Balinese
cultural things/events: Promotion of legong
as a performance art), which was produced in 1974/75 by a committee including
Pak Panji, the late I Nyoman Rembang, and Dr. Wayan Sinti. The Ford Foundation continues to support
endangered Balinese arts, such as legong and Gambuh.
The most powerful
and obvious Western force acting on Balinese culture is that of tourism. Though cultural performances were arranged
for tourists as early as the 1930s, it was not until the advent of mass
tourism, beginning in the 1970s, that the impact of tourism became significant.
Among other results, it was in the late
1970s that groups began weekly performances for tourists. Prominent among these are shows advertised as
"legong Dances." Typically
(but not inevitably), these contain one legong dance, usually legong Lasem,
also identified as legong Keraton, along with a potpourri of other dances in
other styles. Since the late 1980s,
tourists in the Ubud region have had the choice of three or four different
concerts on every night of the week. The
tourists who attend these shows are interested in the cultural experience, but
most have no prior understanding or appreciation of Balinese dance and music.
risks of negative effects from tourist performances are frequently discussed. By repeatedly performing before ignorant
audiences, musicians can become slipshod and bored. Performers sometimes cater to the
inappropriate expectations of the audience, for example, by posing for
"photo opportunities." The
dancers and musicians are semi-professional (though frequently underpaid), and
this has translated into a widespread, assumption among musicians that
rehearsal and practice are necessary only where a paid concert (or a temple
ceremony) is in prospect.
the case of the legong dance, tourist concerts involve clear departures from
the tradition. Usually only one work
from the repertoire, legong Lasem, is played; frequently this is given on
unconsecrated stages that are not appropriately aligned according to Balinese
cosmological principles of spiritual purity and power; young women, rather than
prepubescent girls, perform; the sung narrative frequently is dropped; and,
whereas the complete version of the piece lasts up to 50 minutes, the tourist
rendition is ruthlessly cut, sometimes to only 12 minutes. Cokorda Istri Ratih Iryani, then a 22-year-old
dancer from Peliatan, is quoted in the mid-1980s as saying, "The shorter
dances for tourists are not true Balinese culture. The movements are the same but the dances are
does not have to be duped by government propaganda
alleging an intimate tie between the preservation of culture and the
development of tourism to find benefits from tourism for Balinese dance,
however. Tourism has increased the
general level of wealth to the point where many banjar—the basic unit of
sub-village community government—now can afford two or three different kinds of
gamelan and thereby can support more clubs playing a greater variety of music
and dances. The semar pegulingan
orchestras that had become so rare are now making a comeback, which draws
attention again to the legong dance. Moreover,
some groups have come to realize they can exploit tourist concerts to expand
and maintain their repertoires. For
example, since 1995 the legong group Tirta Sari of Peliatan have performed two legong
dances in their tourist concerts (each of 20-25 minutes' duration). By alternating their program, they have added
the legong dances Jobog, Kuntir, Kuntul, Pelayon, and Semarandana to their
tourist repertoire. Another group, the
Peliatan Masters, have regularly performed a more or less complete, 45-minute
version of legong Lasem for tourists.
Besides, some of
the departures from tradition noted earlier are not all bad. Agung Rai of Saba suggests (personal communication) there is no virtue in
performing long versions of legong dances; even the Balinese find these
tiresome. Provided the dances are edited
tastefully (cutting excessive repetition but not eliding whole sections), there
is no loss in shortening them. Moreover,
older dancers who otherwise would have retired can continue to display their
talents in public performance, as well as going on as teachers.
There is another
way tourists could play a vital role in the future of the legong dance: they
have created a massive legacy of recordings and films covering many Balinese
Many Balinese musicians and dancers
believe regional varieties of the traditional dance forms cannot be lost, even
as the older teachers die, so long as the current generation can access such
films and recordings. Not surprisingly,
the sourcing and archiving of film materials is now attracting attention.
5. Renewal from Within
claim is not that legong owes its survival to the influence, both direct and
indirect, of Westerners through the interest they take in Bali's culture or in
its other attractions. However, I do
think that, one way or another, Westerners have contributed significantly to
the preservation of Balinese culture. They
could do this successfully, though, only by supporting a genuine commitment to
the same result from the Balinese themselves.
Westerners cannot dictate for Balinese what their culture means to them. If the wealth, presence, and interest of
Westerners provide prospects for cultural renewal and conservation, still it is
the Balinese alone who can take up and use those opportunities. Some have done so, as I indicated in
discussing programming options adopted for tourist concerts in Peliatan.
for cultural invigoration and conservation is official policy in some Balinese
quarters. For example, the Walter Spies
Foundation has as its mission the development of Balinese art, with an emphasis
on the preservation of traditional Balinese values and art forms. To further this mission, it supports and
arranges a biennial festival. In 1995,
the festival was held in Peliatan and focused on legong and closely related
dances. Meanwhile, the university of the
arts (ISI, formerly STSI, formerly ASTI) in Denpasar encourages scholarly
theses on, and practical mastery of, traditional art forms, including the legong
dance. Inevitably, though, the style of
the dance is that with which the teacher is familiar. The "official" ISI version of legong
Lasem derives from Binoh and glosses over the many differences—some subtle,
some not—that distinguish the dance's choreography and music in other areas.
A similar risk of homogenization is
created by "how to learn dance" television shows that first appeared
in the late 1970s
and with VCD compilations of Balinese dance issued by Aneka and Bali Records in
though these approaches are, they preserve
a few performances without thereby conserving
the tradition and practice that makes legong a living art form. That tradition is one that expects change and
evolution within the dance and its styles.
It also values and respects regional differences in the music,
choreographies, and styles of movement of the legong dances.
(Moreover, particular legong dances are
sometimes associated with particular areas or villages. Kupu kupu Tarum is identified with Bedulu and
Candra Kanta with Saba, for instance.)
The survival of
the legong dance requires more than the preservation of glass-case, academic
It depends on the widespread involvement
of ordinary people in those villages who pride themselves on their history of
excellence in the legong dance. When
these grassroots are examined, the sources of legong's resilience become
The legong dance
can be mastered only by those who start very young, so great is the suppleness
it requires and the technical difficulties it presents. Moreover, a foundation in the legong dance is
regarded as essential in any female dancer who aspires to perform other genres,
such as the gong kebyar dances. The legong
dance survives only because a constant stream of young village girls have the
desire and discipline to submit to the relentless, prolonged training that it
demands. The passion for dancing that
formerly energized centers of legong excellence continues to burn in Balinese
girls to this day.
In the mid-1980s, Cokorda Istri Ratih
Iryani said, "It is an embarrassment for any girl from Peliatan not to
dance. Everyone here must dance." And the same still holds, apparently, for the
several hundred young hopefuls who come each day to the free 90-minute lessons
provided in Peliatan by Anak Agung Gede Oka Dalem and his sister.
Only the most talented and charismatic
few will graduate eventually to performing in public. They are the future and life of the legong
Davies teaches philosophy at the University of Auckland and writes mainly about
the philosophy of art. His more recent
books include The Philosophy of Art
(Wiley-Blackwell, 2006), Philosophical
Perspectives on Art (Oxford University Press, 2007) and Musical Understandings and Other Essays on
the Philosophy of Music (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Published on November 17, 2011.
I am skeptical of claims tracing the origins of the legong dance back to the
early nineteenth century (as in I Madé Bandem , “The Evolution of legong from
Sacred to Secular Dance of Bali,” Dance
Research Annual, 14(1983), 113-119), for reasons I outline in “The Origins
of Balinese legong,” Bijdragen
tot de taal-, land- en volkenkund (BKI), 164 (2/3): 194-211.
(See also Adrian Vickers, “When did legong
start? A Reply to Stephen Davies,” Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkund
(BKI),(2009) 165 (1): 1-7.)
The proto-form of the legong dance was based on Nandir, a dance for boys, and
was created in the late-nineteenth century by Anak Agung Rai Perit (dance), I
Dewa Ketut Belacing, and I Made Duwaja (music).
The role of the condong, servant to and introducer of the two legongs
(as the other dancers are called), was first created by Ida Bagus Boda, a
teacher of Badung, after 1910 (I Nyoman Rembang et. al., Proyek
Pengembangan Sarana Wisata Budaya Bali: Perkembangan legong Sebagai Seni
Pertunjukan (Typescript: Denpasar,
1974-1975)). (Bandem 1983 gives the date
as 1932.) Until the 1930s, the role of the condong could be danced by a boy. (I Wayan Rindi of Kelandis was famous as
condong (Walter Spies & Beryl de Zoete, Dance
and Drama In Bali (Singapore: Periplus Editions, 2002), and there is a
photograph of 1925 picturing him in the part.) The role of condong was not introduced in Peliatan
until 1916 (I Gusti Ayu Wartini, legong
Keraton Peliatan: Suata Tinjuan terhadap Style dan Fungsinya (Thesis,
Akademi Seni Tari, Denpasar, 1978)) and in Saba until the 1930s (Agung Rai,
personal communication). By the 1930s
the form of the dance was set and girls performed it.
For descriptions and an account of the differences between these two forms of
the legong orchestra, see Michael Tenzer, Balinese
Music (Singapore: Periplus Editions,
 Tilman Seebass, “Change in Balinese Musical
Life: "Kebiar" in the 1920s and 1930s," Being Modern in Bali: Image and Change, A. Vickers, ed., (New
Haven: Monograph 43/Yale Southeast Asia Studies, 1966), 71-91.
Informed sources (such as Bu Ketut Arini Alit and Dr. Wayan Dibia) describe
this particular orchestra as having the most beautiful sound for legong of any
on the island.
Tenzer, Balinese Music (Singapore:
Periplus Editions, 1991).
An ancestral relative of the modern legong dance, however, is Topeng legong, a
religious masked dance associated with the village of Ketewel. This dance is still performed.
 I Gusti
Ayu Wartini, legong Keraton Peliatan:
Suata Tinjuan terhadap Style dan Fungsinya
(Thesis, Akademi Seni Tari, Denpasar, 1978), pp. 12-13. My translation.
 I Nyoman Rembang et. al., Proyek Pengembangan Sarana Wisata Budaya
Bali: Perkembangan legong Sebagai Seni Pertunjukan (Typescript: Denpasar,
Among the core legong dances that were lost by this period are Raja Cina,
Gadung Melati, and Bremara. A legong
version of the Calonarang story was performed in Peliatan as recently as World
War Two, but now is gone (Edward Herbst, Voices
in Bali: Energies and Perceptions in Vocal Music and Theater (Hanover:
Wesleyan University Press, 1997)). Among
the legong dances that have been reconstructed and revived are Kupu kupu Tarum,
Sudasarna, Candra Kanta, Guak Macok, Legod Bawa, and the regionally distinctive
Prabangsa from the village of Tista. Few
groups can perform all the remaining dances from the traditional
repertoire—Lasem, Jobog, Pelayon, Kuntir, Kuntul, and Semarandana. New legong dances can be and are created, but
few of these have survived for long. Among
the most long-lived in this category are Supraba Duta, Untung Surparti, and
 Adrian Vickers, Bali: A Paradise Created (Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin, 1989).
 Nicola Saverse, “1931: Antonin Artaud Sees
Balinese Theatre at the Paris Colonial Exposition,” Drama Review,45 (3)
 John Coast, Dancing Out of Bali (Singapore: Periplus Editions, 2004). [First published in 1953 as Dancers of Bali (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons).]
 Colin McPhee, A House in Bali (Singapore: Periplus Editions, 2000). First published in 1947 by Victor Gollancz
 James McKee, “South Sea Collection Comes to
Folk Archive,” Folklife Center News,10 (1988), 4-6.
 Walter Spies & Beryl de Zoete, Dance and Drama In Bali (Singapore:
Periplus Editions, 2002). First
published in 1938 by Faber & Faber.
 I Madé Bandem & Frederik Eugene deBoer, (1995) Balinese Dance in Transition: Kaja and Kelod
(Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1981, second edition, 1995). And I Wayan Dibia & Rucina Ballinger, Balinese Dance, Drama, and Music
(Singapore: Periplus Editions, 2004).
McPhee, The Music of Bali: A Study in
Form and Instrumental Organization in Balinese Orchestral Music (New Haven
and London: Yale University Press, 1966).
 Colin McPhee,
“Dance in Bali,” Dance Index, nos. 7/8
McPhee, The Music of Bali: A Study in
Form and Instrumental Organization in Balinese Orchestral Music (New Haven
and London: Yale University Press, 1966), p. xiv.
 Colin McPhee,
A House in Bali (Singapore: Periplus
Editions, 2000). First published in 1947
by Victor Gollancz Ltd.
Hatch, Balinese Advertiser (September
1-15, 2004), pp. 39, 42.
A notable case is that of Cristina Formaggia, an Italian, who is active as a
performer in the revival of Gambuh.
A potentially negative aspect of this commerce has been remarked (see the
article on Sang Ayu Ketut Muklin in the
Bali Post of December 6, 1998). Foreign students are willing to pay for
classes at rates locals cannot match and threaten to monopolize the time of the
best teachers, thereby denying local children access to them. In practice, though, this concern seems
unjustified. The best teachers recognize
a responsibility to pass on their knowledge and skills to Balinese children,
and most teach the most talented of their local pupils free of charge.
Hugh Mabbett, The Balinese (Wellington: January Books, 1985) records that the
number of tourists increased from 23,000 in 1970 to 133,000 in 1978. The figure for 2001 was 1,500,000. (There has been a subsequent decline,
following the terrorist bombings in Bali.)
A number of older musicians have voiced this concern to me. As I Wayan Gandera, leader of the group
Gunung Sari, put it in 1996, "Everything
now is a little bit money." The
Balinese culture has generally become less communalist and more money-focused
in recent decades. That this is an
inescapable consequence of Indonesia's move toward a modern economy does not
make it less regrettable when one recalls how deeply the Balinese arts are
rooted in a shared sense of local community.
Mabbett, (1985) The Balinese
(Wellington: January Books, 1985).
discussed in Adrian Vickers, Bali: A
Paradise Created (Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin, 1989). Picard 1990) and
Michel Picard, “Kebalian orang Bali: Tourism and the uses of ‘Balinese Culture’
in New Order Indonesia,” Review of
Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 24 (1990) 1-38.
Cokorda Istri Ratih Iryani, who was quoted earlier, speculated in 1985 that she
would not be able to continue performing as she aged, yet she was still dancing
legong with Tirta Sari in 2005. Appropriately,
the group uses some extremely skilled and experienced older dancers in the more
dramatic works, such as legong Jobog and legong Kuntir.
In this respect, the legong dance is much better off than Gambuh and Arja,
which have had considerably less tourist exposure and appeal.
For further discussion, see Stephen Davies, “Balinese legong: revival or
decline?" Asian Theatre Journal,
23 (2006), 314-341.
 I Wayan
Dibia & Rucina Ballinger, Balinese
Dance, Drama, and Music (Singapore: Periplus Editions, 2004).
Versions of the legong dance vary from village to village, and the local style
is usually known only to teachers trained in it. Sang Ayu Ketut Muklin teaches the
Bedulu/Teges style, which is neither so calm and simple as that found in Saba
nor so realistic and frenetic as that promoted in Peliatan. Many teachers have been influenced by various
sources. Both Ni Gusti Ayu Raka Astuti
and Ni Ketut Arini Alit were first trained in the Lebah/Kelandis (Badung) style
of dancing, which is more refined and abstract than the styles of Saba, Bedulu,
Peliatan, and Tabanan, but later learned other legong dances in Saba or
Anthropologists and others are rightly wary of approaches to the analysis of
authenticity in non-Western art assuming that such cultures inevitably generate
long-standing, static practices that are impervious to outside influences. Nevertheless, they go too far sometimes by
rejecting the meaningfulness of attempts at cultural conservation. I discuss this and related issues in Stephen
Davies, Musical Works and Performances (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001),
Some Balinese teachers describe the girls of today as lazy. Others observe that, with today's schooling,
extracurricular activities, and other distractions, girls can no longer
dedicate as much time as in the past to learning to dance. Nevertheless, Westerners are usually
astonished at the prolonged concentration delivered by pupils even as young as
five, and at the hours of practice they put in.
Mabbett, (1985) The Balinese
(Wellington: January Books, 1985), p. 134.
In the past, the best dancers retained enormous fame and respect long after
they retired from live performance, and many married into the higher castes. As well, dancers earn money from their
tourist performances. But it is unlikely
that young children are motivated by such considerations. They plainly love dancing for its own sake.
I Madé. “The Evolution of legong from Sacred to Secular Dance of Bali,” Dance Research Annual, 14 (1983), 113-119.
I Madé & Frederik Eugene deBoer. Balinese
Dance in Transition: Kaja and Kelod (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995
second edition). [first edition 1981]
John. Dancing Out of Bali
(Singapore: Periplus Editions, 2004). [First
published in 1953 as Dancers of Bali
(New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons).]
Stephen. Musical Works and
Performances (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001).
Stephen. “Balinese legong: revival
or decline?" Asian Theatre Journal,
23 (2006), 314-341.
Stephen. “The Origins of Balinese legong,”
tot de taal-, land- en volkenkund (BKI), 164 (2/3) (2008), 194-211.
I Wayan & Rucina Ballinger, Balinese
Dance, Drama, and Music (Singapore: Periplus Editions, 2004).
Edward. Voices in Bali: Energies
and Perceptions in Vocal Music and Theater (Hanover: Wesleyan University
Hugh. The Balinese (Wellington:
January Books, 1985).
James. “South Sea Collection Comes to Folk Archive,” Folklife Center News, 10 (1988), 4-6.
Colin. The Music of Bali: A Study
in Form and Instrumental Organization in Balinese Orchestral Music (New
Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1966).
Colin. A House in Bali (Singapore:
Periplus Editions, 2000). First published in
1947 by Victor Gollancz Ltd.
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