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October 4, 2020

25 Vintage Portraits of Balinese Dancers From the Early 20th Century

Balinese dance is an ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people of Bali island, Indonesia. Balinese dance is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive.

Balinese dancers express the stories of dance-drama through the bodily gestures including gestures of fingers, hands, head and eyes. The dancers move their necks from side to side as if there necks were made of rubber necks. Their movements tend to be both precise and stylized, with an emphasis on finger and hand movements. Dancers generally dance independently and don’t touch one another. Dances are fixtures of festivals and they are often accompanied by gamelan music.

There are many Balinese dances. Among them are the the Baris (“Warrior Dance”), with martial arts style moves; Janger, a sitting dance with swaying movements performed by groups of men and women; the Pendet, a simple dance often performed before making an offering at a temple; and topeng, mask dances. Bebalihan (entertainment dance) refers to the dances performed for audiences and tourists. Many new Bebalihan are created yearly or even monthly. These dances are categorized as Kontemporer or contemporary dance and usually performed in social events.


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