Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Javanese folk dances

On the island of Java in Indonesia, wayang topeng (masked dances) are a form of folk entertainment often used for rituals. During the early 20th century, the central Javanese court of Yogyakarta adapted the form into its repertoire, refining the movements and adding more complex dance techniques. The wooden masks are works of art and come alive with the restless neck movements, animated rhythms and other special motions of the dancers.

"Revealing Hidden Faces: Masked Dances of Java", a one-hour performance, will be given by Garrett Kam at the Siam Society on November 11, at 7pm. It will feature two masked dances performed in the full costume of different characters from the indigenous Panji cycle of semi-historical romances. Set in Java and Bali during the 12th and 13th centuries, these dances are the same Inao stories that are featured in Thai lakhon nai, traditional dance dramas. One dance is about an antagonistic, strong king; the other about a refined, heroic prince. In between the two performances, explanations and demonstrations of the movements will be given.

Kam has spent over 20 years living in Southeast Asia, mostly in Java and Bali. He studied Javanese dance for three years from master court teachers of the sultan's palace in Yogyakarta, and regularly performs in a dance troupe there. He has taught and performed Javanese dance in Hawaii, at UCLA, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Dartmouth College and Chulalongkorn University, and several other institutes.

For non-society members, a 200-baht donation on entry would be welcomed.

For more information, call the Siam Society, Sukhumvit Soi 21, on 02-258-3491 or visit http://www.siam-society.org.

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