Leko: Balinese Social Dance
Leko is a type of social dance, may be a flirtation dance as a matter of fact. In old days, Leko was a palace dance, designed for the entertainment of the king, nowadays it is a popular social dance that anybody can enjoy and participate. It is performed by a pairs of female dancers and usually involves the audience. Leko can only be found in Western part of Bali, in the regency of Tabanan and Jembrana.
As any other dance performance in Bali, Leko performance is preceded by presenting a set of offering for the success of the performance by the priest or the elder of the troupe. After the process of presenting the offering is finished, the semara pagulingan orchestra which accompany the Leko performance play an introduction melody usually without a dancer. The musical accompaniment of Leko is not always the semara pagulingan, Leko troupe from Jembrana regency used bamboo instrument orchestra (tingklik or rindik).
When the introductory of the accompaniment orchestra is finished, a pairs of female dancers step out and stand in the middle of the stage, the accompaniment orchestra played introductory melody to the dancers. The dancers dance introductory dance for around 20 minutes.
At the end of introductory dance session, the ngibing (dancing with the audience) begins, accompanied by a special, very lively composition played in fast tempo. Each of the dancers carries a loose scarf in one hand and fan in the other. When the dancers begin the session, men shout from all over the audience, urging the dancers to choose from among them. Each dancer improvises with several men, in turn. When the dancers go out into the audience to select their partner, each dancer designates the lucky man by tapping him with her closed fan.
Once the male reaches the stage, the dancer wraps her scarf around his waist, and the two perform together for few minutes. Some men, better dancers than others, are permitted to dance longer than the rest. It is characteristic for the male partner to take the lead, and a good Leko dancer is esteemed for her skill following closely and responding deftly to dance overtures of her partner. The man usually attempts to get very close to the dancer but she always darts away in time to evade him. When the man wants to stop he unwrap the scarf around his waist and returns it to the dancer.
Photos are taken from Bali Arts Festival 2007.
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