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Kind Of Java Dance


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There 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.


The 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.

The 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.


The 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 dancers.
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.


The 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.


The 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.

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