Banyuwangi is known as the city of Gandrung, with the dance’s deep connection to the East Java city. Officially the mascot of the city since 2002, Gandrung is an original art form from Banyuwangi.
In the local dialect, gandrung means to be deeply in love, to be smitten with someone or something. For the people of Banyuwangi, most of whom are farmers, the object of their affection is the rice goddess Dewi Sri and the dance is their expression of gratefulness to her for a successful harvest. This respect infuses the desire of the local people — known as Blambangan for the traditional kingdom of the area — to develop and preserve the dance.
In continuing to preserve the heritage of the dance, a total of 1,314 Gandrung dancers and their supporters danced at Boom beach in Banyuwangi for the Gandrung Sewu event.The performance, themed “Seblang Lukinto”, displayed stunning moves and a dance formation that continued on from the performance last year, which had detailed the Blambangan Kingdom’s efforts to oppose colonists.
The Gandrung Sewu event was not only a colossal dance performance involving thousands, but also served to consolidate cultural appreciation among many different groups.
Photo and Text : Wendra Ajistyatama