Examining the History, Functions, and Characteristics of the Gambyong Dance

Gambyong Dance – Indonesia is well known for its very diverse culture. One of the cultures that still exists today, namely dance culture or often referred to by many people as the art of dance. Talking about Indonesian dance, almost every region has its own dance art, as well as the province of Central Java.

One of the dances in Central Java that is well known by the public, namely the Gambyong dance. Then, what exactly is the Gambyong dance? To find out more about the Gambyong dance, you can see the review below, starting from its history, functions and characteristics.


Gambyong dance

Gambyong dance is one of the most famous traditional dances in Central Java. The Gambyong dance is still sustainable and is still being performed today as part of Javanese art. In general, the Gambyong dance is performed only at traditional events and cultural performances which are usually attended by the wider community.

This dance is considered a dance that has different characteristics and uniqueness compared to dances in other regions. Gambyong dance is a type of classical Javanese dance originating from the Surakarta area.

According to the history of the Gambyong dance, this dance is a new form of the Tayub dance which is held to welcome guests at community events. Gambyong dance was originally a solo dance, but now the Gambyong dance has developed into a dance performed by at least 3 to 5 people.

History of Gambyong Dance

Gambyong dance is a form of classical Javanese dance originating from Surakarta and is usually performed to welcome guests or performed in art performances. It should also be noted that the Gambyong dance does not only consist of one dance choreography, but consists of several choreographies. However, the most famous movements or dances are the Gambyong Pareanom dance with several variations and also the Gambyong Pangkur dance.

Even though it has many kinds or versions, the Gambyong dance has the same basic movement, namely the tayub dance movement or also known as the taledhek dance movement. At the beginning of its emergence, the Gambyong dance was created to be performed by a single dancer, but along with its development, currently the Gambyong dance is more often performed by several dancers to add an element of blocking to the stage, so that it will involve large lines and movements.

Gambyong dance is created from the tayub dance or taledhek dance which previously existed. This tayub or taledhek dance lives in society and has been known since the 15th century. The existence of the taledhek dance itself has a close connection with the tayub dance.

Therefore, the taledhek dance is part of the development of the tayub dance. Tayub dance is a dance that is generally held at harvest ceremonies or during the process of planting rice.

In the tayub dance performance, the taledhek dancer will usually dance in the tayuban together with the escorts. However, before the ngibing begins, the taledhek dancers will perform a solo dance as an opening. The opening aims to respect the guests and attract the audience.

This is in accordance with the meaning of taledhek which comes from the word ngleledhek which means to invite allure or seduce. The dancers who display their abilities at the opening of this tayuban are often said to be carrying the gambyong or gambyong dance movements, so that the opening dance is better known as the gambyong dance.

In ancient times, taledhek dancers who were famous as street dancers were loved by many people. Because it was quite popular, then there were many taledhek dancers who were appointed and assigned to become palace dancers.

At that time, there was one famous dancer named Ma Ajeng Gambyong, he was famous for having flexible movements when dancing and having a pretty melodious voice.

The King of the Surakarta Sultanate, Pakubuwono IV, heard about the talent from Sri Gambyong, then he invited Sri Gambyong to the palace to perform the tayub dance. The dance performed by Sri Gambyong in the palace environment later became the inspiration for naming a new type of dance, namely the gambyong dance.

From there, it is suspected that the term Gambyong dance comes from the name of a famous dancer who existed in the past, named Sri Gambyong or Mas Ajeng Gambyong.

The name of the gambyong dance is listed and narrated from 1788 to 1820 in Serat Centhini , a book written during the reigns of Pakubuwana IV and Pakubuwana V around 1820 to 1823.

In the Centhini Fiber , it is stated that gambyong is a taledhek dance. Then, a dance director during the reign of Pakubuwana IX (1861-1893) named KRMT Wreksodiningrat made a gambyong folk dance so that it could be staged and performed among nobles and aristocrats.

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Because of this, this folk dance was refined and later became popular. According to Nyi Bei Mardusari who was an artist and also a concubine of Sri Mangkunegara VII (1916-1944), gambyong was usually performed at that time in front of guests who were in the Mangkunegaran palace environment.

An important change occurred around 1950, Nyi Bei Mintoraras, a dance trainer from the Mangkunegaran Palace during the time of Mangkunegara VIII, made another version of gambyong which had been standardized and later this version was known as Gambyong Pareanom .

The gambyong dance choreography that had been standardized was then performed for the first time at the wedding ceremony of Gusti Nurul, the sister of MN VIII, in 1951. After being shown for the first time, apparently the choreography of the gambyong dance was actually accepted and liked by the community, until another version of gambyong emerged. developed for public performance.

With the development of the Gambyong dance, this dance has become a medium of entertainment for the community. Therefore, the Gambyong dance is widely performed at community events and religious ceremonies.

Characteristics and Characteristics of the Gambyong Dance

Gambyong dance as one of the typical dances from the island of Java has unique characteristics and characteristics. This uniqueness can be seen from the costumes, movements, gamelan accompaniment and the function of the gambyong dance.

The first characteristic is part of the gambyong dance. This dance has three parts, namely the beginning, the content, and the end or in terms of Surakarta style Javanese dance, these parts are referred to as advanced beksan, beksan and backward beksan.

The center of the whole gambyong dance is on the movement of the feet, arms, head and body of the dancer. Hand and head movements also have a concept that is the main characteristic of the Gambyong dance itself.

In addition, the eyes will always accompany or follow every movement of the hand by looking at the fingers and this movement is very dominant in the Gambyong dance. In fact, the foot movements in the Gambyong dance will also move harmoniously and in rhythm to make the Gambyong dance look beautiful when it is performed, so that the audience will feel amazed.

Broadly speaking, the characteristics and features of the Gambyong dance are as follows.

  • The clothes worn by the dancers have shades of yellow and green.
  • These colors are symbols of prosperity and fertility.
  • Before the gambyong dance begins, the show is always opened with a gendhing pangkur.
  • Movement techniques, rhythm, dance accompaniment and patterns from dance kendhangan will display dance characters that are cool, flexible, flexible, and tregel.

In detail, the following is an explanation of the characteristics and characteristics of the Gambyong dance.


Gambyong Dance Movement

There are three movements in the gambyong dance, namely the initial movement or what is known as the forward beksan, the main movement which is called the beksan, and the closing movement which is called the backward beksan.

This dance movement will usually highlight the flexibility of the feet, hands, body and head of the dancer. While the basic movements are on the head and hands when dancing.

The movements of the Gambyong dance are carried out in a slow tempo and are very careful. Every movement of the Gambyong dance has a meaning or describes the beauty of Javanese women. The gaze from the dancer’s shady eyes will always look at the fingers, so that it will add to the atmosphere of tenderness and elegance from the gambyong dance.

The feet of the dancers will make movements to the rhythm of gamelan music which is harmonious and soft. In addition to movement, the facial expressions of the dancers will also show an elegant smile when performing this dance.

The softness of the Gambyong dance movements is an interesting characteristic of the Gambyong dance to learn. Although, in the past, the Gambyong dance was only learned by people who were in the royal environment, but now the general public can also learn the Gambyong dance and can even make this dance a medium of entertainment.

Costumes for Gambyong Dancers

When dancing the gambyong dance, the dancers must wear traditional Javanese clothing. The costume of the Gambyong dance consists of a kebaya and a kemben which have open shoulders with a batik patterned cloth known as jarik or jarit cloth. The costumes of the dancers are also equipped with scarves that are worn over the shoulders of the dancers as complementary accessories.

The shawl that is placed over the shoulder will occasionally be played by the dancers by gently flicking and moving the shawl. In general, the dancer’s shawl is a shawl with a golden yellow color.

Apart from clothes, the dancers will also make up their faces, so that they will look more graceful and beautiful when performing Gambyong’s movements. The dancer’s makeup will be in accordance with Javanese dress, so it will give a soft impression on the dancer’s face. Then, the dancers’ hair will be styled using a bun according to Javanese custom.

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Traditional Gamelan Accompaniment

As many people know, almost all traditional dances use music or rhythm as accompaniment. Likewise, the Gambyong dance is performed with accompaniment from Javanese gamelan. Gamelan is a set of musical instruments consisting of drums, gongs, kenong and xylophone.

Kendang is the main musical instrument in the Gambyong dance. The beat of the drum player will provide tempo and rhythm for the dancer’s movements. That way, the rhythm and dance movements will be harmonious and beautiful to look at. Apart from being accompanied by gamelan, the Gambyong dance is also accompanied by songs from sinden who sing Javanese styles.

Gambyong Dance Property

The property of the Gambyong dance consists of costume design, make-up, staging and lighting. The clothes of the Gambyong dancers use cloth with calm colors and will be adjusted to the contents of the story.

For example, the Gambyong Jangkung Kuning dance is a dance that takes folklore, namely Timun Mas, so that the costumes of the dancers will be more neutral and calm in color.

Apart from adjusting to the contents of folklore, the clothes worn by the dancers also have shades of yellow and green. Both colors are symbols of prosperity and fertility.

According to a journal of Gambyong Jangkung Kuning Dance Choreography in Surakarta, the costumes or attire of the Gambyong dancers consist of 14 properties. Among them are jumputan cloth, jarik cloth, sampur, stagen, camisole, bun, subal, brooch accessories, cundhuk mentul, cundhuk tip, necklaces, bracelets, flowers and earrings.

The Gambyong dance performing arts will use make-up tailored to the characters in the story. For example, the tall yellow gambyong dance will use makeup for the dancer’s facial lines, which are more beautiful and firm.

The makeup of the tall yellow gambyong dancer will use a combination of brown and black on the eyelids. While the property used from Retno Kusumo’s gambyong dance is sampur. Sampur is a long cloth that resembles a shawl and will be tied around the stomach.

Meaning of Gambyong Dance

As with other traditional dances, the Gambyong dance is not just a dance. However, this dance also has a meaning behind it. Gambyong dance is usually performed during the planting season and rice harvest. The purpose of the Gambyong dance is for fertility and to get an abundant harvest.

According to traditions from East and Central Java, the Gambyong dance is a form of respect for Dewi Sri as a symbol of fertility. Dewi Sri is described as a Gambyong dancer. In addition, the gambyong dance is currently performed to welcome state guests, honor and enliven weddings.

Gambyong dance function

Gambyong dance has three functions, including as a performing art, as an opening event, and as a means of entertainment.

As Performing Arts

Gambyong dance as a performing art can be interpreted as a spectacle as well as a means of ceremony. The ceremonial means of the gambyong dance will be performed at certain ceremonies, such as village cleaning, weddings and harvesting and planting rice.

As Opening Event

Then, the ceremonial function of the Gambyong dance also developed. From what was originally only performed at official events, currently the Gambyong dance is shown as an opening performance at various activities, art festivals to congresses.

As a Means of Entertainment

Then, the next function of the Gambyong dance is as a means of entertainment. Gambyong dance will be staged or displayed when there are state birthdays, weddings or circumcision ceremonies. In addition, the gambyong dance can also be performed for staging competitions, wayang and ketoprak events. That way, the audience who sees the Gambyong dance will be entertained and the event will become more lively.

Even though the Gambyong dance is a traditional dance that has existed for a long time, the Gambyong dance is still growing today. This is because there are still many people who are interested in learning the Gambyong dance and enjoy the performance of the Gambyong dance.

Therefore, until now, the Gambyong dance continues to experience innovation in its movements. Some of the developments of the gambyong dance are by producing a new type of dance.

Some of the new dances produced from the Gambyong dance are Gambyong Ayun-Ayun , Gambyong Gambirsawit , Gambyong Sala Minulya , Gambyong Mudhatama , Gambyong Dewandaru, and Gambyong Campursari . Despite experiencing various kinds of developments and innovations, the main characteristics of the Gambyong dance have been maintained and the Gambyong dance is still present as a Javanese custom and culture.