Dance Theatre And Religion

Great Essays
Dance, Theatre and Religion:
A Balinese Case Study

Southeast Asia is a highly diverse region, home to myriad ethnicities, religions, practices, beliefs, values, languages, cultures and traditions. The variety of performance art, dance and theatre found in Southeast Asia “is almost staggering” (Brandon, 1967, p. 1). Some examples of performance art, dance and theatre found in Southeast Asia include “shadow plays in Java, dramatic folk rituals in Bali, masked pantomime in Thailand, spirit dances in Burma, folk-song dramas in Laos, classic Chinese-derived opera in Vietnam, puppet plays in Sunda, and the Royal Ballet of Cambodia” (Brandon, 1967, pp. 1-2). In many countries, theatre and dance is performed for entertainment purposes, to entertain
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Unlike the Sanghyang Dedari, Wayang Kulit falls under the category of Bebali dances, and are performances that accompanies religious ceremony. Wayang Kulit is a shadow-puppet play that features a lone puppeteer handling and manipulating cut-out figures before a screen, casting shadows of the puppet on the screen while singing and narrating a story with the accompaniment of gamelan instruments (Brandon, 1967). The puppets used by the puppeteer during the Wayang Kulit performance is believed to be alive and containing a spirit who can only be handled by a dalang (puppeteer). It is believed and understood that the dalang (puppeteer) serves as both as an artist and priest (Rubin & Sedana, 2007, p. 18) and that Wayang Kulit is performed for exorcism and purification, pacifying a dangerous evil spirit and transforming it into a divine spirit through the performance (Rubin & Sedana, 2007, p. 22). The ritual performed through Wayang Kulit is also for spirits of ancestors as it is believed that the “spirits of ancestors return as shadows” (Lim, p. …show more content…
These performances often narrates and enacts adapted stories and themes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, two major Sanskrit epics of the Hindu religion. The Mahabharata and Ramayana are Hindu scriptures and promotes religious paragons through its stories (Nong, 2008, p. 133). The Mahabharata is a religious work that is well known for the section of the Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Blessed Lord) which is revered as the “Bible of popular Hinduism” (Robinson, 2009). Likewise, the Ramayana is a religious poem that describes the incarnation of God (Vishnu), his struggles with evil (the devil) and how he overcomes them (Buck, 2000, p.

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