Imagine going to a full-on Javanese royal wedding, full of pomp and ceremony, the bride and groom resplendent in gold jewelry and trimmings and the somber blacks and browns of Javanese traditional attire.
Then imagine attending a huge conference two days later, opened with a dance inspired by Ardhanareesvara, a half-male, half-female manifestation of Shiva, illustrating the dualism of human nature. The dance is very gracefully performed – amazingly so when you consider that the performers are all … men!
Yes, they are Indonesia’s famous third sex, the waria (wanita-pria or female-male), akin to the hijras of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan; the fa’afafine of Polynesia, the kathoeys (ladyboys) of Thailand and the “sworn virgins” of the Balkans, among others.
Very skillful and graceful, inviting much admiration and applause, their performance was also just a...