If you ever heard about Balinese dance, you might also hear about Legong Kraton Dance. Legong Kraton or Legong Keraton is a very famous dance in Bali. Besides the dynamic movement and beautiful music, this dance tells a tragic story about the unrequited love of King Lasem.
Brief History of Legong Kraton Dance
The history of Legong Kraton dance can be traced back to the 17th century when a king of Gianyar Kingdom dreamed about seven angels who dance in the temple courtyard. He then tried to reconstruct the angels’ dance. When he finished, he could not find any girl who is pretty enough to dance it. He then creates seven masks that resemble the angels’ faces. Until now, you can see the dance of the seven angels in the village of Ketewel, Gianyar. The dance is called Sang Hyang Legong.
After several years, there was a dancer name I Gusti Jelantik who create a dance played by men. He called his dance Nandir. The king observed that the Nandir that inspired by Sang Hyang Legong dance can be reconstructed to create a dance that can be played by women. So he then he ordered his best dancer and musician to create a dance known as Legong Lasem. Legong came from two words: Leg and Gong. Leg means the body movement, and Gong means the sound of the music. So legong means the body movement that follows the sound of the music. From the kingdom of Gianyar, this dance spread to all over Bali. Almost all the kingdom in Bali have the Legong Dance as the entertainment for the royal family. As the Legong is always performed in the palace or keraton, people then call this dance Legong Kraton Dance.
The Plot of Legong Kraton Dance
Legong Kraton Dance’s plot is taken from an ancient poem called “Kidung Malat”. The creator of this dance took the part of the poem that known as “Kesandung Lasem“. This part is the climax of Malat story when the war between kingdoms in Java took places.
The story of Kesandung Lasem is quite sad, and here is the story goes: There was a new princess in the Kingdom of Lasem. She was the foster daughter of King Lasem’s brother. The princess originally came from Daha Kingdom and she got lost in the kingdom when she tried to catch a golden dragonfly. King Lasem take her to his kingdom and plan to marry her in a few weeks. The princess, Diah Nrangke Sari, had never agreed on the plan. She never came out of her room when the king visited her. She also threatened the king that she would commit suicide if the king tried to touch her. The king was deeply in love with her and let her do anything she wanted in the palace.
In the near future, there would be a war and King Lasem want to participate in the war. Before he went to the war, went to his wife to say goodbye. The queen persuaded the king to not go to the war as she had a nightmare the night before. She believed that the dream was a bad omen, and the king will die. The king then said that he would go, and the queen should not worry as the dream is only merely a dream.
The Bad Omens
Off the queen palace, King Lasem then tried to meet the princess. He would say good bye and asked her to wish him to win in the war. The princess refused to meet him and will not pray for his victory. Instead, she slammed the door in front of the king. The king was not angry as he was deeply in love with her. He then continued his journey to the war zone. After he passed the gate, he was stumbled and fall several times. This was considered a bad omen.
Oh his way to the camp, there was a crow vomited blood in front of him. This was also considered a bad omen that the king would die. However the king dis did not pay attention to this sign. Instead, he tried to get rid of the crow.
In the Malat story, the king of Lasem will die in the hand of Nrangke Sari’s fiance. The creator of Legong Kraton dance did not take the war part to the dance. The Legong Kraton Dance ends after the king chase the crow.
That is the story behind the famous Legong Kraton Dance. Quite romantic and also tragic at the same time. Now when you watch the dance you can see why the part of the dance feels so romantic and in other part become so full of wrath. I hope that you enjoy the story and see you in Bali soon.
Read also: Learning Art In Batuan Village Bali