Kind Of Java Dance
are a great number of dances of the common people in Central Java.
Those worth mentioning are the topeng dance, the kuda-kepang dance,
the tledek dance and the katoprak dance-drama.
topeng dance was at first a court-dance. The topeng dance or wayang
topeng (masked dance-drama) which had appeared in Java in the period
of the Kediri kingdom in the l2th century was still very popular
in the period of the Mataram kingdom. After the division of Mataram
into the kingdoms of Surakarta and Yogyakarta however, the topeng
dance called wayang topeng changed its place ot cultivation from
the court to the common people. Since the second half of the 18th
century, the wayang topeng has become a dance-drama of the common
people in Central Java.
wayang topeng developing among the common people is not of as high
level as the one developing in court-circles. Before the period
of independence the wayang topeng developing among the common people,
usually performed by wayang puppeteers, became a commercialized
dance-drama, the dancers earning their daily bread by performing
on the streets, in the markets and other public places.
kuda kepang dance is now a popular dance in Central Java. It is
danced by two, four, six, eight and often by more dancers, each
of whom rides an imitation horse of woven bamboo. This dance is
also called jatilan in Yogyakarta, and in Surakarta it is often
referred to as reog. In the region of Magelang, the kuda kepang
dance -has always been a very popular dance among the common people.
At first the musical instruments accompanying the kuda kepang dance
consists only of some angk1ungs (bamboo musical instruments),a kendang
(drum) and a gong bumbung (a bamboo gong). Gradually however they
become more and more complete.
In the past the kuda kepang dance or jatilan was not only danced
by men but also by women. In Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Magelang and
other regions of the island of Java this dance is a commercialized
dance performed in the streets and in the marketplaces by itinerant
In Java the kuda kepang dance is the only remaining dance from the
Period of Primitive Society which has some connection with totemism.
and ritual ceremony for men.
tledek dance or ledek is a dance of the common people in Central
Java (and East Java) which is danced by a woman. It is also commercially
danced by female dancers, who, accompanied by players of Javanese
musical instruments, peddle their dances along the streets and in
the markets. The tledek dance is often danced by a man dressed like
a woman. The dance is also a remnant of ronggeng which has developed
among the common people. The tledek dancer sings while she dances.
And in West Java, as well as in Sumatra, the tledek dance still
uses its original name, ronggeng.
ketoprak dance-drama is a popular dance-drama that is fairly old,
created by Raden Mas Wreksadiningrat from Surakarta in 1908. Ketoprak
comes from word ketok meaning to knock; it is so called because
originally ketoprak was accompanied by the stamping rhythm of a
lesung (a hollow log for pounding rice). Ketoprak is a dance-drama
of the common people in the real sense of the word, because it has
always developed in circles of the common people.