Little Legong of Bali
the dancer is tense
her fingers are trembling
vibrations are spreading
her bare feet flat on the ground
flexing her knees
how lively she dances
moving so briskly
winding in and out of a circle
with arms outstretched
and fingers that flutter
the gamelan calls
she stamps in agreement
quivering faster and faster
spreading to thigh and to hip
her entire body is quaking
with violence such
that the headdress is shaking
and sweet smelling flowers are fleeing in fright
the spell breaks so quickly
she glides now so swiftly
side steps going this way and that
such flexible swayings
arms sharply patterned at wrists and at elbows
without ever ceasing
she picks up the fan from the matting
and continues with one in each hand
in her elegant winding stride
quick little steps and postures
shrill flutters and snaps
eyes darting and fleeing
bound richly in brocade
from bodice to hip
a bright shining chrysalis
in hues gold and dark green.
her fan flicks in anger
eyes staring in fright
she is coaxing and teasing
petite and alluring
exquisite young nymph of the night
Bali is famous for its exuberance in dance. Dancing
is an integral part of Balinese life and most dances have religious
significance and depict many of the famous epics from the mythological
Hindu stories. Every village has a gamelan and dance group and
they perform a variety of dances at festivals and ceremonies.
Nearly every gamelan and dance group perform different variations
on the same theme. Most performances take place at night.
Balinese dances exhibit a great love of drama and
theatre. It is a highly stylised dance technique. There is a combination
of dance, music, acting and singing in almost every performance.
The Legong, is perhaps, the most famous and popular of all the
dances performed in Bali. It is a dance performed by three dancers,
two Legongs and the attendant, the Condong. The Legong dancers
are pre-pubescent girls. They are bound from head to foot in green
and gold brocade, which restricts movements. Therefore, the movements
performed by these dancers are very stylised.
The Legong dance tells the story of princess Rangkesari,
taken captive by the king of Lasem who wants to make her his queen.
However, princess Rangkesari is betrothed to another and spurns
his advances. Rangkesari’s brother seeks to release her
from captivity and begs the king to let her go, rather than have
to face a war. The king refuses and later dies in the ensuing
A Legong dancer is known as a ‘Legong’.
Such importance is placed on this dance that a great Legong dancer
will be remembered even in old age.