Last March, we were on a hunt to find the beat of Selangor. It is officially tagged as #RentakSelangor.
You can check out what went down on the whole adventure here: Malaysia Travelogue: Beats of Selangor
As our trip was all about dancing to the tunes that influenced the rich culture in Selangor (and perhaps Malaysia), it is fitting to write a separate blog highlighting these colorful cultural performances!
A traditional music ensemble from Java which normally performed with nine male musicians and six female dancers. During our Rentak Selangor trip, we were given us a taste of the festive gamelan sound by Seni Budya Warisan Gamelan and Wayang Kulit (one of the oldest and sought after gamelan ensemble in Selangor).
It came from the low Javanese word “gamel”, which refers to the type of mallet used to strike the percussion instruments. It is related to the Filipino Kulintang ensemble. Which is the reason why this is a bit familiar to me.
The instruments used are: Gong Agong, Gong Sawakan, Gendang Ibu, Gendang Anak, Saron Pekin, Saron Baron I dan Saron Baron II, Gambang and Kenon. These instuments are commonly made from bronze and wood.
A traditional shadow-puppet play originated from Java. Performed with a stick puppet made from cow-hide against a blank white screen called a “kelir”. It is normally performed with a gamelan troupe providing the musical accompaniments for every scene.
The wayang kulit story is based from the tales of Ramayan and Mahabrata.
I love how the puppets are being handled by one one puppeteer, known as a Tuk Dalang. It is said that the reputation of a Tuk Dalang is based on his expertise in mimicking different voices of each character.
Also known as Kompang Tiga or Three Kompangs is a traditional music performance being played in the Javanese community in Selangor. It was played during the time when traditional music was used to attract people to the teaching of Islam. The reason perhaps why this traditional performance is based from the Kitab Berzani, the book of proses in praise of the Prophet Mohammad.
You can see the Kompang Jawa being performed at mosques, madrasahs and religious festivals such as the feat to celebrate the completion of Qur’an recitation, circumcision and weddings.
A prominent Malay folk dance dated from the pre-Islamic times. Like most of the performances already mentioned, it also originated from Java.
This art form had a strong link with spirit possession where most of the dancers go into trance during the performance. However, nowadays, kuda kepang performances are being performed without the inclusion of possession rituals.
The word kuda kepang can be directly translated in Malay as “braided horse”, because the props the are being used to represent the horses are made from braided rattan or leather.
We had a chance to watch it at the Dorani Homestay where we also tried to dance it ourselves (attempted should be the proper word).
It is normally performed with nine dancers representing nine evangelists to re-enact the early Islamic battles.
The only dance we’ve seen that is without a trace of Javanese influence.
The lion dance is a traditional dance in the Chinese culture where performers mimic a lion movement while wearing a lion costume (manned by two performers).
Nowadays, this performance can be seen in Chinese communities all over the world. And of course with the large Chinese population, Malaysia is not an exemption. Performed during Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals.
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