Court Dance from Java
Classic Javanese dance has been in existence for centuries. It developed under the influence of religion, arts, and philosophy of India, China, South Eastern Asia, and native Javanese culture. Articulated hand and finger positions (mudra) are traced back to Indian dance, while slow weight shift is similar to Tai Chi from China. Meditative quality of the dance is attributed to Hinduism and Buddhism. The animistic nature of indigenous Javanese religion is reflected in the dance as the dancer’s movement flows like a river or clouds over the sky. Javanese dance evolved to the high art under the protection of the mighty courts, mainly Kraton Yogyakarta and Kraton Surakarta. Certain qualities such as refinement, grace, dignity, and self-discipline were valued among royalty and pursued through dance. In Javanese dance, the dancer aims to maintain full control over any desire to “take off" or express a personal state.