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Inspired by Birds  

by on Thursday, 20 December 2007No Comment | 3,145 views

Birds are animals which inspired many choreographers to produced beautiful Balinese contemporary dances. Their energetic and sometimes elegant movements combined with their beautiful feathers are never-ending source of inspiration and imagination for Balinese choreographers to depict in a dance or two. Here are some well known dances which draw their inspiration from birds.

Manuk Rawa dance, from

Manuk Rawa
Manuk Rawa dance was the first contemporary dance which based on the movements of the bird to make a great impression on Balinese. Manuk Rawa was created by I wayan Dibia in 1981 as a part of Mahabharata Sendratari (Balinese dance-drama) entitled Bale Gala-gala (house of wax). The dance depicts the life of a flock of waterbirds (manuk rawa) who play freely and peacefully in a pond deep inside the forest. In this dance the traditional movements of Balinese dance is combined with a dance from West Java which depicts the movement of a peacock.

Belibis dance, from

Belibis dance is a contemporary dance choreographed by Ni Luh Swasthi Wijaya for a dance-drama entitled Angling Dharma in 1984. The dance depicts the behavior and movements of a flock of wild ducks (belibis) in their natural habitat. The dance put great emphasis on the beauty and grace of wild duck movements. This dance is also has a plot in it, this dance tells the story of a king who has been changed into a wild duck, cursed by his three wives for spying on them when they practiced black magic. He joins a flock of wild ducks and plays joyfully with them. Five or seven female dancers are needed to perform this dance, each dressed in pink and white costume with white wings.

Belibis dance, from

Cendrawasih dance is also a contemporary which is choreographed by Ni Luh Swasti Wijaya; originally this dance was choreographed as a duet for presentation at the Walter Spies Festival, held at Bali Arts Centre in 1988. This dance is a duet which depicts the courtship of two Bird of Paradise, it reveals the beauty and grace of the birds’ movements.

Cendrawasih dance on The Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

The full-length version of this dance grew from duet to a dance with a plot based on the legend of how the Cendrawasih acquired its beautiful feathers. The story goes as follow: there was a bird named Logohu and he felt very jealous of other birds of the forest because they have beautiful colored feathers, while he only has black ones like a crow. Accordingly, he requested the gods of the forest for more colorful ones. His request was granted, but he was told to choose the color he wishes to wear. He chose the color of rainbow and granted by the god of the forest. But soon the colorful bird learned that people eager to catch and kill him to get his feathers. Although he has colorful feathers his life is much less secure.

Cendrawasih dance on The Annual Bali Arts Festival 2006

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