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Embodied Communities

Embodied Communities: Dance Traditions and Change in Java

Felicia Hughes-Freeland
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Embodied Communities
    Book Description:

    Court dance in Java has changed from a colonial ceremonial tradition into a national artistic classicism. Central to this general transformation has been dance's role in personal transformation, developing appropriate forms of everyday behaviour and strengthening the powers of persuasion that come from the skillful manipulation of both physical and verbal forms of politeness. This account of dance's significance in performance and in everyday life draws on extensive research, including dance training in Java, and builds on how practitioners interpret and explain the repertoire. The Javanese case is contextualized in relation to social values, religion, philosophy, and commoditization arising from tourism. It also raises fundamental questions about the theorization of culture, society and the body during a period of radical change.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-868-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. A Note on Spelling and Other Matters
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Chapter 1 Introduction: Dance, Culture and Embodiment
    (pp. 1-29)

    This book is about dance in modern, postcolonial Indonesia. It is grounded in a long-term case study conducted between 1982 and 1999 into the dance traditions of the Sultan’s court in Yogyakarta, in south central Java.

    Dance matters because local and national communities use it to represent themselves to themselves and to others. It is part of a politics of representation, but in contrast to other material symbols, it is embodied. It has a special power because of this, and is both part of a system of representation and a form of action. My interest in dance is in how...

  8. Chapter 2 Before the Nation: The Heyday of Court Dance
    (pp. 30-50)

    Court dance survived the end of colonialism because of processes which occurred in the last thirty years of colonial rule during the reign of Sultan Hamĕngkubuwana VIII (r.1921–39). This period also marked the start of the nationalist movement in Java. The eighth Sultan’s reign made it possible for court dance to have a place in cultural politics after independence, and also consolidated the court repertoire.

    Javanese court dance is not an invented tradition, nor does it demonstrate an unbroken tradition stretching back to antiquity. The influence of the concept of ‘invented tradition’ (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983) is evidence of...

  9. Chapter 3 From Colony to Nation: Dance in the Reign of Hamĕngkubuwana IX (1940–1988)
    (pp. 51-76)

    This chapter examines the changes that transformed the court repertoire into an Indonesian classical tradition. When a nation gains independence, its leaders and citizens try to represent the new political entity as a tangible reality. This often takes the form of expressive spectacles, including music and dance, which make the nation visible and audible. These undergo processes of ritualization even as they create new communities.¹ Despite these changes, family patronage and the ritual nature of Indonesian bureaucracy have been crucial for the survival of Javanese court dance in Indonesia, and for constituting embodied communities in the nation state. Rather than...

  10. Chapter 4 Embodying Culture: Dance as Education
    (pp. 77-110)

    This chapter explains Javanese values, their embodiment in court dance and their contribution to the production of citizens in the Indonesian Republic. Javanese court dance has become a resource within the domain of cultural politics as a performance event, but learning to dance has also provided individuals with useful resources in the domain of social interaction. Javanese socialization processes have been extended and transformed to shape an Indonesian model of identity. The principle developed in the Tamansiswa educational system that dance reflects the character of the person has resulted in a restricted set of physical practices and performance contexts becoming...

  11. Chapter 5 Performance and Symbolism: Bĕdhaya and the Poetics of Power
    (pp. 111-162)

    Court dance movement is valued for itself, and for its instrumental power to produce effects in the social world. This chapter examines the relationship between dance movement and political symbolism with reference to courtbĕdhayadances, using both oral and written accounts from the court circle. Courtbĕdhayadances have long been the prerogative of the sultan (lĕlangĕn dalĕm). Since 1945 they have normally been performed by women, and have high status as Indonesian culture. As such they are strongly associated with power and prestige.

    Bĕdhayais a dance form where the court’s highly valued system of allusiveness is


  12. Chapter 6 The Art of Dancing: Joged Mataram
    (pp. 163-197)

    I now explore the philosophy of Joged Mataram, ‘the dance of Mataram’. Joged Mataram, the title of an influential text by Gusti Suryobrongto (1976) about the principles of Yogyakartan court dance, which are traced back to the seventeenth-century Javanese kingdom of Mataram. Joged Mataram represents the transformation of ritually resonanced performance into art with an aesthetic rather than a ritual instrumentality, but it has not eliminated the relationship between expression and spirituality which we have already encountered.

    From one perspective, Joged Mataram is a product of the court, and inspired by the ethos ofwayang wong(dance theatre) during the...

  13. Chapter 7 Changing Styles of Patronage: Tourism and Commoditization
    (pp. 198-235)

    As we have discovered, the colonial dance repertoire of the Sultan’s court in Yogyakarta has changed into a classical Indonesian dance form, but it retains references and identifications from Javanese world-views of the late colonial period. Joged Mataram in particular is a reformulation of court dance as classical Yogyakartan dance and aesthetics founded in an ethical and spiritual ethos from the reign of the eighth Sultan. Those values resonated with early postcolonial concerns, but have fitted less well with subsequent normalization. Joged Mataram framed dance as a resource to develop national character, but this ‘educative capital’ was already being challenged...

  14. Chapter 8 Conclusion: Embodied Communities in the Nation State
    (pp. 236-252)

    This account of Javanese court dance has raised a number of questions about what the anthropology of dance can contribute to the theorization of culture, society and the body as it moves into the city and the global village. An anthropology of dance is distinctive for including a cultural account of embodied movement elicited primarily, though not exclusively, through local and emergent categories used against backgrounds of nationalism and postcolonialism. It has an important part to play in explaining how bodies and performance are understood and conceptualized culturally, and in reminding ourselves that modernity is not uniform.

    The epigram for...

  15. Appendix I Reigns of the Sultans of Yogyakarta
    (pp. 253-253)
  16. Appendix II Illustrating ‘Flowing Water’ (Chapter 4)
    (pp. 254-254)
  17. Appendix III Summary from Brongtodiningrat’s Interpretation of Court Bĕdhaya (Chapter 5)
    (pp. 255-255)
  18. Glossary
    (pp. 256-259)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 260-276)
  20. Index
    (pp. 277-288)