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'Jaipong' dance becomes
latest victim of pornography
law

Erotic no more: A dancer performs Jaipong, a Sundanese folk dance, during a traditional festival in Gunung Halimun, West Java, in this 2008  file photo. (JP/J. Adiguna)
Erotic no more: A dancer performs Jaipong, a Sundanese folk dance, during a traditional festival in Gunung Halimun, West Java, in this 2008 file photo. (JP/J. Adiguna)

The controversial pornography law has been blasted for targeting cultural heritage, after West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan used it as a legal basis to forbid Jaipong dancers from wearing "sexy" costumes and executing "provocative" dance moves.

The West Java administration's ban has prompted severe criticism from artists and legislators who blast it as a move to curb the traditional arts and culture of local people.

Bandung-born singer and dancer Dewi Gita said she did not see the need for the administration to delve into the matter when there were so many other problems affecting the province, including floods, poverty and expensive education.

“You see, Jaipong has nearly vanished. It is our unique heritage and we should do our best to keep it alive. But instead of supporting the internationally recognized dance, the authorities encourage its extinction,” she said.

Dewi, who traveled the world performing Jaipong in the 1990s, said that in the pre-reform era, she could travel abroad five times a year to perform, and always won huge praise from overseas audiences. But now, she said, a once-a-year international performance was considered lucky.

“Jaipong has nothing to do with pornography, it's merely a cultural expression. The dance is actually derived from the traditional ketuk tilu dance, which is a way that girls attract boys in Sundanese traditional customs. No wonder, the girl must be provocative and sexy,” she said.

Noted Sundanese artist Gugum Gumbira created Jaipong to help indigenous dance and music compete with Western popular shows, after then president Sukarno in 1961 banned rock and roll and other Western music.

Although an urban dance, Jaipong is based primarily on village forms of ketuk tilu and on pencak silat, the Indonesian martial arts.

Legislator and Padjadjaran University professor Chandra Wila said that besides suppressing cultural expression, the ban violated the porn law. “Jaipong is a form of cultural expression, and the law should protect it. Why they do they want to ban it?”

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