The Dancer and the Dance


1988 / 44 minutes

Directed by
Felicia Hughes-Freeland
Country of production
United Kingdom

This film is an invitation to see Javanese palace dancing as performed in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and to go beyond appearances to discover what the dance means to those who continue the tradition. In this film dancers prepare to entertain guests at a wedding reception and perform the Love Dance (Langen Nawung Asmara). The female dancer, Susindahati, becomes the centre of attention as she does her household duties and then goes to the Secondary School of Performing Arts for classes in teaching theory and practical training in the Golek Asmarandana dance. Susindahati's generation is concerned with the perfecting of technical mastery. It is the older generation who can explain the importance of dance as a discipline, and the ideas associated with it. One of the connoisseurs, R. Kawindrasusena (known as Pak Seno), reads part of a philosophical text in the macapat style, and explains the spiritual elements of palace dance in Yogyakarta. At a training session of the Yayasan Siswa Among Beksa dance association, he describes his early experience of learning to dance, and explains the Javanese way to watch dances such as the elaborate Bedhaya Gandakusuma, which is being rehearsed with a gamelan orchestra and singers. After samples from this one-and-a-half hour long dance, Pak Seno offers his interpretation of the significance of what we have just seen.

Language and subtitles
Original Version with English Subtitles
South-East Asia
Dance / Theatre / Performance