Balinese dance is a very ancient tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people. It is an intensely expressive part of the sacred offering ceremonies for the gods and spirits. The dance embodies dualism, one of the most significant parts of the Balinese hinduism. It creates communication between the living and the dead, harmony between transiency and eternity, it is connection between the material and spiritual world.
It means “offering”.
Rejang is one of the holiest and most expressive sacrificial dances. It is performed by Balinese women at temple anniversary ceremonies in the inner courtyard of the temple to delight and entertain the visiting gods and spirits. It is a slow and hypnotic group dance with a graceful and simple motion and smooth moves. It looks simple but it is difficult to analyze so it’s better just to enjoy this ancient beauty of Balinese traditions. The dancers wear white and gold colored clothes with a headdress decorated with flowers. As part of the dualist philosophy they got holy water drops on their head with incense sticks as a symbol of fire.
As a student of ISI Denpasar art school I have the opportunity to learn some Balinese dances including rejang. I still could not decide if it is cool or lame that I have already performed as a dancer at a ceremony in Bali before I even could watch a real Balinese dancing performance. On 14th November on a fullmoon ceremony and temple anniversary celebration our dance group had the chance to perform rejang dance with some Balinese children in front of local audience.
Wearing the costume was a great experience itself: however it was difficult to breathe in the clothes and it took some time to get used to the flower bucket on my head, I felt like I was a real Balinese dancer. In the past few weeks we just started to be familiar with this kind of movements with all the complicated positions of the feet, hands and body, and now we could show our knowledge to experts.
In the beginning of the ceremony local women brought their offerings around the temple three times and gave them to the gods. This was followed by the so called baris dance performed by two male dancers. Finally our performance came along accompanied by Balinese gamelan music. We have been warned in advance not to be surprised if the audience would burst into laughter (it happened), as it is a Balinese style of applause and they are not making fun of us.
The whole event was an amazing experience and we were really honoured being invited as foreigners to such a traditional celebration.