Here are a few new finds concerning the performing arts of Java and Bali. All are woefully small, but worth seeing all the same.
The Srikandi Cakil shows a failed abduction scene (the style is Javanese/Yogyakarta, the art is wayang wong, or masked dance, sometimes also referred to as wayang orang — “human drama”, as opposed to “puppet drama”). The dancers are non-human creatures — he is a demon, she a goddess — which is why their dance is “eccentric”. In an illustration of how the arts influence each other, the demons steps imitate the motions of a shadow-puppet (he tries to have himself seen on profile, etc.) Also a lesson on why not to pick on girls.
Gambyong Suko Retno (from the Surakarta palace) shows something of the mesmerizing nature of Javanese dance: slow can be fascinating.
The Sari Raras illustrate something about how to be graceful and alluring despite the ravages of advancing age.
Best of them all, Bedaya Sarpo Rodra — (above) — a student’s graduation dance (from the art institute in Surakarta) — you will be forgiven to think that the dancers are in fact Divine Giant Praying-Mantises Come to Earth to Feed On Men.
In a related search, here is Dalang (puppet master) Sudarma, from Buleleng (Bali) performing a classic wayang kulit (shadow-puppet theater) with an oil lamp (the trembling light of the oil lamp appears to add life to the puppets; for some mysterious reason, in Java they do them with a light-bulb). If you see nothing else, try to stick it out through the first section, the dance of the kayon (that leaf-shaped puppet) which is the wayang kulit equivalent of the opera overture.