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Bali Legong Dance, also known as Legong Keraton Dance, is one of the traditional Balinese dances that has been introduced to international travellers as a dance performance performed by highly professional Balinese dancers. With beautiful and mesmerising dance movements, the female dancers perform the Legong Keraton Dance with mesmerising expertise, showing a dazzling sway. This dance is performed by female dancers with the characteristic of carrying a fan and accompanied by gamelan music (traditional Balinese musical instruments). Legong Keraton Dance is part of the cultural heritage that has existed since the royal era, and is now developed again by dance groups as a dance performance that can be witnessed today. An experience of being part of the Legong Dance preservation as a memorable experience that adds to the understanding of the cultural heritage of dance on the Bali Island.

All you need to know about Legong Dance

  • Legong Dance Location and Show Hours
  • Legong Dance History
  • Meaning of the word Legong
  • The Development of the Legong Dance
  • The Art of Legong Dance
  • Legong Dance Music Gamelan
  • How To Watch Legong Dance

Legong Dance Location and Show Hours

As one of the dance performances that is not less interesting than Barong Keris Dance and Kecak Fire Dance, Legong Dance has unique characteristics that make it loved by tourists. This performance can be enjoyed in several locations in Ubud village, such as at Puri Ubud with an alternating schedule with other traditional dances, Pura Saraswati, and a special place called Tari Legong and Barong Waksirsa, which is held every day at 19.00 – 20.00 WITA. These performances are performed by professional dancers who deliver the storyline beautifully, allowing you to be swept away into the story they are telling. Although the journey from Kuta to the Legong Dance location takes about 2 hours, finding the location is not difficult as it is in the centre of Ubud, precisely at Puri Ubud. Therefore, it is recommended to spend your tour in Ubud by watching this phenomenal Legong Dance performance. After enjoying the performance, you can continue your evening by enjoying the atmosphere of Ubud Village and enjoying dinner, creating an experience that is different from the usual tour program

Legong Dance History

Legong dance dates back to ancient times, thought to have been created and developed in the late 19th century, and was generally performed within royal courts to entertain the king or royal guests. On the Bali Island, this dance is known as Legong Keraton because in the past, this performance was only organised in the royal environment. The early history of Legong Dance in Bali dates back to the King of Sukawati named I Dewa Agung Made Karna, who ruled in 1775-1825 A.D. It is said that once upon a time, King Sukawati was undergoing asceticism at Jogan Agung Temple, Ketewel Village (Sukawati area). At that time, in his dream, he witnessed an angel dancing elegantly in heaven, wearing a headdress made of gold. The angel’s dance moves were very graceful, with every curve exuding perfect beauty. Upon awakening from his dream, King Sukawati immediately returned to the kingdom and gave orders to the chatty bendesa to make several masks that resembled the appearance of the angel in his dream. He also ordered some expert dancers to create dance moves similar to those performed by the angel in his dream. The mask-making process was completed, and nine sacred masks were made according to King Sukawati’s request. The first dance performance was performed under the name Sang Hyang Legong at Jogan Agung Temple, where King Sukawati had been ascetic and dreamt of seeing an angel dancing. The performance involved two female dancers who had not yet menstruated, who were considered still pure.

Meaning of the word Legong

The meaning of the word “Legong” comes from two syllables, namely “Leg”, which means a flexible and flexible dance movement, and the word “gong”, which means a Balinese musical instrument called gamelan, which accompanies the flexible dance movements. Thus, Legong can be interpreted as meaning flexible dance movements accompanied by beautiful gamelan music. The gamelan music that accompanies Legong Dance generally uses Semar Pagulingan musical instruments. In the beginning, Legong Dance was danced by two female dancers who had not experienced menstruation. This performance is usually performed under the light of the full moon, creating a very enchanting scene. Distinctive features of Legong Dance include the use of traditional fans by the dancers, and there are also additional dancers who do not use fans, known as “inclined”. Over time, Legong Dance lost its popularity to other dances. However, revitalisation efforts were made in 1960 to preserve Legong Dance, and as a result, we can see this performance today.

The Development of the Legong Dance

After the first performance of Sang Hyang Legong by the King of Sukawati, I Dewa Agung Made Karna, the Nandir Dance Studio from Blahbatuh Village, led by I Gusti Ngurah Jelantik, followed suit with a dance performance. The performance was witnessed by the King of Gianyar, I Dewa Agung Manggis, who has a keen interest in dance. While watching the Sang Hyang Legong dance performed by I Gusti Ngurah Jelantik, the King of Gianyar felt very entertained and interested in the dance. As a result of the King’s interest, he ordered two artists from Sukawati village to re-arrange the dance with movements and dancers similar to Sang Hyang Legong. The dance was then restored using two dancers, and the artists successfully re-arranged the dance. From then on, the Classic Legong dance emerged, which we can still enjoy today. Over time, many dance studios have developed this Legong Dance, adding artistic elements and variations to the dance style without losing the characteristics of the original Legong Keraton Dance.

The Art of Legong Dance

The art of Legong Dance has experienced rapid development in terms of dance technique and quality. At first, Legong Keraton Dance developed within the royal court, but in the early 19th century, this development expanded outside the kingdom. Dancers who previously danced Legong Keraton Dance inside the palace returned to their villages and began to teach the art of this dance to the citizens. As a result, Legong Dance developed rapidly, mainly due to the Balinese people’s great interest in the arts. At that time, many dance studios began to develop Legong Dance with a variety of beautiful styles, such as palegongan style dances spread in villages such as in the villages of Saba, Peliata, Bedugul, Binoh, Kelandis, and several other places. Although many villages adopted Legong Dance, only the villages of Saba and Peliatan still maintain the characteristics of this dance and gave birth to various types of Palegongan dances with various names and types of dance styles. Today, there are many variations of Legong Dance that can be seen, some of which take storylines from myths such as Ramayana and Mahabarata. The slick and beautiful presentation makes the audience feel comfortable to watch this performance.

Legong Dance Music Gamelan

Legong dances were originally accompanied by gamelan music, which is a traditional Balinese musical instrument played by several people, producing music that is very pleasant to listen to. The type of gamelan used to accompany the Legong dance is Gamelan Palegongan, which consists of various instruments such as gender rambar, gangsa jongkong, gong, kemong, kempluk, klenang, a pair of drum kerumungan, suling, rebab, jublag, jegog, gerontorang, and a narrator who sings songs with a melodious voice. However, along with the times and in terms of economy, Legong dances are often accompanied by gamelan gong kebyar. This does not detract from the enchanting nature of Legong dance, as the flexibility of the dance allows it to be accompanied by various types of musical instruments without losing its charm. If you’re on holiday in Bali and want to see something new, you can catch a Legong Dance performance. Enjoy the graceful movements of the dancers carrying fans, providing a very memorable experience. This dance is one of Indonesia’s cultural heritages that is still alive and can be witnessed in this modern era, showing the beauty and preservation of traditional Balinese art.

Stroyline Legong Dance Performance

In the beginning, Legong Dance was a separate type of dance. However, as time progressed, the movements in this dance began to be positioned based on one of the dances in gambuh. Along the way, it can be seen that the intricate movements in Legong Dance have been refined and adjusted dynamically, forming Legong Dance as we know it today. The dance movements in Legong Dance pelegongan are very beautiful. Although behind these movements, there are also dramatic movements. Along with the times and the tourism sector, many variants of Legong Dance were developed for the benefit of tourism. As a result, many Legong dances were adopted from famous puppet stories. Conversely, there are also those that take stories from the past and ancestors.

  1. Legong Keraton: This dance takes its base story from the Panji tale that developed in the 12th and 13th centuries. The story tells of the King of Lasem who intended to propose to a princess from the Kingdom of Daha named Rangeksari. However, the princess refused because she was already bound by Raden Panji of Kahuripan. In the end, the King of Lasem committed a dishonourable act by kidnapping the princess. This act of kidnapping was discovered by the King of Kediri, the older brother of the princess, who then declared war and moved towards the Kingdom of Lasem. King Lasem learnt of the war plan and prepared to head to the battlefield. However, before reaching his destination, King Lasem was intercepted by the bird Garuda who came to help free the princess. A fierce battle ensued between King Lasem and the Garuda bird, which was eventually won by the Garuda bird. King Lasem managed to escape to his kingdom. Upon arriving at the kingdom, the King of Kediri and his army arrived, and a great battle ensued. Although King Lasem had previously been severely injured and fought off King Kediri’s troops, he eventually died in this battle. King Kediri won the battle, which eventually freed the princess, and took over the Lasem Kingdom.
  2. Legong of Mahabarata Epos: This dance takes a story from the Mahabarata book which tells about the civil war between the Pandawa and Kaurawa in the battle for the throne of the Kingdom of Hastinapura. The Kauravas, aided by their cunning uncle Sengkuni, succeeded in driving the Pandavas out of the kingdom and sent them into exile in the forest for 12 years, disguised according to Sengkuni’s cunning plan. During the time of exile, the Pandavas were given the gift of magic and powerful weapons to face war. They were also assisted by the avatara of God Vishnu who transformed into Sri Krishna, who helped the Pandavas with advice and tactics to face and defeat the Kuravas. The civil war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, known as the Bharatayuda war, took place on a battlefield called Kuruksetra. It was a long and bloody battle, and saw important figures such as Drona, Karna, and Sengkuni fall. Finally, the war ended in victory for the Pandavas, causing the death of the Kauravas. The Pandavas won this battle and took the rightful throne of Hastinapura. The Legong Epos Mahabarata dance performance provides an epic experience, so that the audience is carried away by the dramatic and profound storyline.

How To Watch Legong Dance

Legong Dance has always had a special place in the hearts of dance enthusiasts, and for those of you who want to enjoy a mesmerising Legong Dance performance, you can visit Ubud Temple in the afternoon. There, you will be able to witness a beautiful Legong Dance performance. Tickets for the performance can be purchased at the ticket booth at Pura Saraswati, a special place called Legong Dance and Barong Waksirsa, and at Puri Ubud according to the Legong Dance performance schedule. Puri Ubud often hosts a wide variety of traditional dance performances every day, so it is advisable to arrive early in order to get a comfortable seat to watch the amazing Legong Dance. If you would like to witness this performance, we at Bali Tour offer a Hire Private Car and Driver program. By providing comfortable and air-conditioned private transport and supported by an experienced driver, your trip will be more enjoyable. If you are in the Ubud area, you can also use local transport to reach Puri Ubud and easily buy tickets for the show on site. Enjoy the Legong Dance performance that is full of meaning and presents a good storyline and makes the viewing experience very satisfying.

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