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Bedhaya Ketawang Around The World
The bedhaya (also written as bedoyo, beḍaya, and various other transliterations) is a sacred ritualized dance of Java, Indonesia, associated with the royal palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta. Along with the serimpi, the bedhaya epitomized the elegant (alus) character of the royal court, and the dance became an important symbol of the ruler’s power.
The bedhaya has different forms in the two court cities, the bedhaya Ketawang in Surakarta (Solo), and the bedhaya Semang in Yogyakarta, the latter of which is no longer performed. The Solonese dance continues to be performed once per year, on the second day of the Javanese month of Ruwah (during May in theGregorian calendar), to commemorate the ascension of the current Susuhunan (prince) of Surakarta. Nine females, relatives or wives of the Susuhunan, perform the dance before a private audience. An invitation to anyone outside of the inner circle of the court is a considerable honor.
The dance is held in a pendhapa, a pillared audience hall with a peaked roof, with the Susuhunan on a throne in the middle of the room. The dance is performed in three large sections. In each section, the dancers emerge from a room behind the audience hall, approach the throne single file, dance in front of the throne, and then retreat, again single file. They approach and retreat on opposite sides of the throne, thus circumambulating the throne in a clockwise direction, the appropriate direction for veneration in Buddhist and Shaivist traditions.
A name and number is given to each of the nine dancers, which designate a specific position in the changing choreographic pattern. There are slight variations between different sources in the names and numbers of the dancers, but there is consensus on the general forms. They are: a human being, representing taṇhā (the word for desire or craving in Buddhism), four chakras (the top three of which are used as note names; see slendro), and the four limbs.