Magu Bee at World's End

A travel blog of one crazy Magu Bee traveling the globe.

Legong is one of Bali's traditional dances. 
It's been considered royal entertainment ever since it originated in the 19th century. Danced by two rigorously trained adolescent girls, it tells one of the stories from Malat, a collection of heroic romances. 

 


I've seen captures of Legong a long time before I got to Bali and was sure I needed to see it. The first time around, before going to Lombok, I didn't manage to get to Ubud, which is considered the capital of the island's culture. Seeing the performance is basically what I went back to Bali for. 

I went to see an evening performance in the Ubud Palace with Elisa and Patrice, a French guy I'd met during my volcano trek. We payed around 75k, if I remember correctly, so a rather high tourist price, and took our places. We first sat on some chairs a bit further away from the stage but just before the show started, we decided to move to the front and occupy the floor. And that was a great move, as we had a great view on everything that was going on.

The main dancers look amazing. Beautiful outfits, a lot of class. No wonder Legong dancers are very highly thought of in the society and make for wives of royals and wealthy merchants.


The dance itself is rather dynaminc with many short cut movements. All the majesty of the steps and well-studied face expressions convey very intense emotions.

It's also amazing how much coordination between the two dancers is needed. Anyone who's done dance will know the amount of work that comes with it. Especially that parts of the performance were danced with eyes wide shut and not only standing in one place, but also moving around the stage.

The next thing is how similar Legong might seem to Bharata natyam and other Indian dances to people who are familiar with the Indian dance culture. No wonder I guess, seeing as Bali is a Hindu island and must have been influenced by the continental Hindu culture.




Visually, a Legong performance is definitely a treat.



Legong is performed to gamelan music. Gamelan is a set of instruments typical for Bali and Java, consisting of, among others, xylophones, drums, gongs and bamboo flutes. You can see an example performance and listen to gamelan here.
The guy was simply amazing.



I most certainly enjoyed myself and would recommend watching some dance performances while on Bali. And although my friend, who studied on Java, told me it was possible to see those for 1/10 of the Ubud's price, I do not regret going to the Ubud Palace.