Janger is an interesting genre of Balinese performing art. The name can be translated as 'infatuation' with a connotation of someone who is madly in love. Unlike Abuang Kalah, which it in some respect closely resembles, Janger is choreographed, rehearsed presentation.
Janger was created in the early twentieth century. In Janger a variety of elements from many sources, some Balinese, some pan-Indonesian, some Western, are brought together.
The distinctive Western features in Janger include certain design elements, especially the painted backdrop, or tenda. The male costume in Janger also shows Western influence.
It consists of a 'beret', Balinese bapang or fancy collar, short trousers, knee-socks, and tennis shoes. Large epaulettes are also included, and some groups have sported uniform sunglasses.
These exotic elements and certain other less easily discernible features were taken into Janger from an earlier form of dramatic entertainment, created in Java, known as Stambul, which was seen in Bali early in the twentieth century.
The typical Janger performance begins with a tableau vivant, presented in front of the tenda and behind a front curtain (langse), which is drawn to the sides to reveal the composition. In a decorative pose, the group sings a song in unison, welcoming the audience and requesting their goodwill.
After the opening song concluded, the langse is closed. The entrance of twelve men called kecak , begins the main part of the performance.
The kecak execute an elaborate, highly gymnastic, close-order routine involving marching and counter marching, acrobatics, saluting and other movements quite foreign to classical Balinese dancing.
After completed the maneuvers, they face one another in two rows of six and sit down, forming two side of square formation.
The women, the janger, enter. The entrance of the janger is based on the old Rejang processional dance. But the movement is more complicated and reveals a distinct influence of Legong style.
As the women dance, they sing a folksong in ordinary Balinese, to the accompaniment of chanting and rhythmic sounds made vocally by the kecaks.
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