‘Joged bumbung’ seeks
to clean its image

Eighteen-year-old Luh Mona Listiani mesmerized hundreds of spectators at the Denpasar Art Center’s amphitheater with her outstanding joged bumbung performance.

Her body swayed elegantly, spiced with dynamic movements in the accompaniment of a male dancer in a joyous atmosphere. She invited one audience member to dance with her.

Mona was among 15 contestants at the joged bumbung dance competition held by the Bali provincial administration in response to the latest sensational joged bumbung “porn” video uploaded on YouTube.

Joged bumbung is known as a unique social folk dance performed by female and male dancers during community and village gatherings.

Joged means dance, while bumbung refers to a length of hollow bamboo used as a musical instrument to complement the dance.

However, presently joged bumbung is more frequently associated with a flirtatious and erotic dance due to a notorious “porn” dance performance that has been accessible on YouTube since last September.

The two-minute video features a joged bumbung dancer from Buleleng regency in North Bali. She engaged in a series of erotic movements portraying a female and male engaging in sexual intercourse.

Even though Bali rejects the pornography law, the screenings of several “porn videos”, such as Cowboy in Paradise, which portrays Balinese gigolos, and the joged bumbung video have caused concern among scholars and community leaders alike.

Bali culture office chief Ida Bagus Sedhawa said that several joged bumbung dance troupes have gone too far in their portrayals of the dance. “This competition aims at restoring the image of joged bumbung as a social dance, rather than an erotic dance,” Sedhawa said.

Contest participants were not allowed to express erotic movements. “We want to emphasize the artistic and esthetic elements of joged bumbung. The current form of  joged bumbung contradicts the island’s cultural values,” he added.

Wayan Dibia, a professor of dance at the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) in Denpasar, lamented that commercial and mass culture had led to “demands to present a more sensational form of the dance”.

Many people have happily welcomed the dancers to their parties. “We have frequently been asked to perform sexy and erotic dances, but we refuse to do so,” said Pasek Mara, the leader of  Gita Netra Waditra dance troupe from Buleleng.

“One time people threw stones and other things at my dancer who refused to perform sensual movements. Most of them just wanted to watch sexy dancers and sensual performances,” Mara said.

Mona expected the government to take action against dance troupes that present sexy joged bumbung. “I feel uncomfortable when dancing because I have experienced sexual harassment from viewers,” she said.

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