is a form of Balinese dance. It is a refined dance form characterized by intricate finger movements, complicated footwork, and expressive gestures and facial expressions.
Legong probably originated in the 19th century as royal entertainment. Legend has it that a prince of Sukwati fell ill and had a vivid dream in which two maidens danced to gamelan
A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included....
music. When he recovered, he arranged for such dances to be performed in reality. Others believe that the Legong originated with the sanghyang
Sanghyang is a sacred Balinese dance, based on the idea that a force enters the body of an entranced performer. The force, identified as hyang, is important spiritual entities in ancient Indonesian mythology. Sanghyang dedari is a dance performed by pre-pubescent girls, similar in some ways to the...
, a ceremony involving voluntary possession
In law, possession is the control a person intentionally exercises toward a thing. In all cases, to possess something, a person must have an intention to possess it. A person may be in possession of some property...
of two little girls by beneficent spirits. Legong is also danced at public festivals. Excerpts from Legong dance dramas are put on for tourists.
Legong dancers are always girls who have not yet reached puberty. They begin rigorous training at about the age of five. These dancers are regarded highly in the society and usually become wives of royal personages or wealthy merchants.
Classical Legong enacts several traditional stories. The most common is the tale of the King of Lasem from the Malat
, a collection of heroic romances. He is at war with another king, the father (or brother) of Princess Ranjasari. Lasem wants to marry the girl, but she detests him and tries to run away. Becoming lost in the forest, she is captured by Lasem, who imprisons her and goes out for a final assault against her family. He is attacked by a monstrous raven, which foretells his death.
The dramatics are enacted in elaborate and stylized pantomime. The two little actresses are accompanied by a third dancer called a tjondong
or attendant. She sets the scene, presents the dancers with their fans and later plays the part of the raven.