Male Legong, Male Dancer Trapped in Female Costumes

Male Legong, Male Dancer Trapped in Female Costumes

This phenomenon is actually very common in the Balinese dance. Male legong by Ardhanareswari Classical Art Studio, Sesetan village, Denpasar successfully drew the attention of the spectators of the Bali Arts Festival 2016 presented at the Angsoka Stage, Denpasar Art Center, Thursday (Jun. 16). The dancers appeared ‘beautifully’ in the middle of their valor. Making

This phenomenon is actually very common in the Balinese dance. Male legong by Ardhanareswari Classical Art Studio, Sesetan village, Denpasar successfully drew the attention of the spectators of the Bali Arts Festival 2016 presented at the Angsoka Stage, Denpasar Art Center, Thursday (Jun. 16). The dancers appeared ‘beautifully’ in the middle of their valor. Making solid body look graceful is not difficult for them. Sometimes tapering fingers are enough to deceive the audience about their authenticity as male dancers.

Manager of Ardhanareswari art studio, I Gusti Made Agus Wira Aditama, said that all the legong dancers are men. However, it must be admitted that the dancers indeed look pretty without having to make transgender surgery. “We present male dancers because we’d like to reflect on the past times. Legong was first danced by men, all of them are men. As the times go by, very few men want to dance. During the nineteenth to twentieth century, male dancers increasingly reduced and they are then replaced by women,” he said.

Agus added that transformation of Legong dancers from men to women had consequences on the dance. Duration of the dance is often reduced because the stamina of women is not as strong as men. As a result, a lot of phases in the Legong dance are ultimately never staged to disappear. For instance, the Legong Bremara has disappeared, but it has now been reconstructed and displayed in this Bali Arts Festival.

Male Legong_2

“Now, we would like to raise it again that legong dance should be preserved with complete phases, with complete duration and standard original pattern. Today, many original patterns have been significantly changed by contemporary models,” he explained. Luckily, said Agus, from year to year there is always new prospective male legong dancers. Ardhanareswari studio currently has 20 male dancers with the age from 15 to 50 years. One of them is Nyoman Sukama, the oldest dancer in the studio.

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Sukama admitted there is numbness when performing the dance being synonymous with women like the legong. Moreover, when he should be ‘trapped’ in the fabric loops and belt, denoting typical dance costumes for women during 20 to 30 minutes for once dancing. Nevertheless, Sukama has very strong motivation to continuously preserve Balinese culture. Not surprisingly, he has still persisted since the studio was established. Moreover, the temptation that can ignite his anger is also quite strong. Sometimes he gets ridicule saying if he is sissy dancer.

Related to this, Balinese dance maestro, Ni Ketut Arini, said that male legong dancer is very enthusiastic in learning to dance. They dance with heart and honesty as well as indeed take time. Unlike the female dancers, they are often hindered by other activities. “So, when asked to teach them I was very happy. They specifically have the time to learn and like to ask question. How about my performance, mom? What is my drawback? Sometimes when dancing they made small mistake and did not make harmony and said sorry. So, they can think freely and I do not blame on them,” she said. (BTN/kmb)



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