Classical Javanese Dance:
The Surakarta tradition and its terminology

Clara Brakel-Papenhuyzen

KITLV Press 1995
A book review by Danny Yee © 2002
Classical Javanese Dance begins with a twenty page overview of the place of traditional dance in Javanese culture. This is followed by a forty page survey of dances, by region, genre (female dances, male dances, and theatre dances), and character type and movement style. Not specific to Solo, this material makes a nice general survey which may interest a reasonably broad range of people — students of dance, Javanists, gamelan players, tourists, and others.

The core of Classical Javanese Dance, and at some 130 pages the larger part, is a detailed glossary of terms used in the Surakarta dance tradition. Rather detailed, most of this is really only for those studying or performing Javanese dance. A randomly selected sample entry:

miwir sampur 'to spread the sampur'
the fingers grasp the part of the sampur which is close to the body, and the hand glides along the edge of the material, until the arm is stretched to the side. Alternately alusan dancers may spread the sampur in front of the left side of the hip near the buckle of the belt, with the palm of the hand facing the body.
This glossary is nicely provided with illustrative line drawings.

The final part is a translation of "Rules for the art of dancing at the Mankunegaran court", a document written around 1920 and attributed to Prangwadana VII. This consists of a brief history of dances connected with the Mankunegaran court, followed by a detailed description of the Tayungan dance. This translation is accompanied by fifteen full-page halftones illustrating key movements and poses of the dance.

September 2002

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%T Classical Javanese Dance
%S The Surakarta tradition and its terminology
%A Brakel-Papenhuyzen, Clara
%I KITLV Press
%D 1995
%O paperback, halftones, index
%G ISBN 906718053X
%P xii,252pp