top of page

Forming Character through Bedhaya, The Epitome of Javanese Dance

Updated: Sep 5, 2021

Hi! It's Sarah from the Business Team. As I read from other gift maker's blogs telling about their hobbies and favorite activities, I'm interested to also share mine. I grew up in a Javanese family that implementing ethical Javanese values and cultural practices, so I'm familiar with anything related to Javanese cultural traditions. My grandmother is an outstanding and skillful classical Javanese dancer, she has been the courtly Javanese palace (Keraton) dancer or usually called Beksan Putri since she was 11. She is a professional classical Javanese dancer, she puts her heart and soul into dance. One of the iconic dances that she usually performing is Bedhaya. The Bedhaya is a sacred ritualized dance of Java associated with the royal palace of Yogyakarta which is danced by nine girls to express theme of advices about the human being way of life in order to always get the bright way. Bedhaya has epitomized the elegant character of the Javanese and the royal court. My grandmother has the ability to bring a strong interpretation of the story through her movements.

The picture on the right is when my grandmother was young on her solo classical Javanese dance performance in Germany. By only looking at the photo I can see a good energy and how charismatic the way she performed. I didn't start practicing classical Javanese dance at an early age as my grandmother did. I started to join classical Javanese dance when I was 19. I joined a class in Jakarta called Jawa Jawi Java, the instructor is my grandmother's good friend. I was the youngest participant in the class, it was really hard to catch up with other participants since they are already had well-experienced practices. But then, once I connected to every rhythm and movement, it's really addicting to learn more about classical Javanese dances. My instructor is a really fun person, we usually called her Bude Nuk, she is 64 years old. She was really helpful and she taught every move patiently. Aside from teaching classical Javanese dances, Bude Nuk always has intimate sessions after class, she shared her experiences and Javanese culture-related stories. She once told us that the role of Bedhaya palace dance as a result of a past culture that has high values is still needed, in order to build human personality, of Javanese people in particular and Indonesian in general.

Bedhaya is not only related to the aesthetic value but also deals with moral and ethical values that are useful for the formation of character in nurturing noble characters. According to Notonagoro (1971:1), the various moral teaching in Bedhaya are regarding to religious values, ethics, aesthetics, social, moral, and cultural which are influenced by Javanese culture. Bedhaya is one of the hardest and most complex form of dance compared to other classical Javanese dances, it directs people to practice sense to sharpen the sensibilities or responsiveness, to be able to well-behaved and intelligently control. The core point of a life framed by the wisdom and advices and they are packaged in the language of symbols in the form of dance.

Bude Nuk also mentioned a concept called Joged Mataram that also has a relevance philosophy in Bedhaya for character-forming. The mastery of Joged Mataram is significant for people who are learning dance to understand that learning dance beside the physical skills, it must also understand the concept of dance. Therefore, an understanding of Joged Mataram is essential to relevance in dance life as well as in everyday life. Joged Mataram consists of four elements, which are Sawiji, Greget, Sengguh, and Ora Mingkuh. Sawiji is total concentration, not only invidual's action-oriented but also social system as shown in the attitude of mutual cooperation. Greget is the spirit of burning means commitment to pursue and realize expectations by working hard and be able to solve problem. Sengguh is confident with self control which not lead to pride. Ora Mingkuh is determination which means being able to face any situation. The four things in Joged Mataram are local wisdom that is the concept of philosophy in dancing. Many of values embodied in Bedhaya can function as forming characters that can be inculcated from childhood (it is for sure that it needs further study which is adapted to the recent evolving paradigm). For me, personally, learning classical Javanese dances especially Bedhaya requires discipline, perseverance, patience, unyielding spirit, and peace. Aside from nurturing character, classical Javanese dances is such a stress relief for me. During pandemic I'm no longer joining the classical Javanese dance classes and I do miss practicing Bedhaya with Bude Nuk accompanied by the euphonious sounds of gamelan.

I'd like to know, what is your current hobby that helps you promote your personal growth? Type your answer on my comment section :-) Thank you for reading & see you!

236 views6 comments

Recent Posts

See All

This list of questions was utilised to conduct our European Commission H2020 research project, TIPPING+, in understanding narrative-network dynamics in tipping processes towards low-carbon energy futu

bottom of page