Classical Court Dance
The pendopo (front hall) of Puro Mangkunagaran are full with dancers male and female, who are dancing enthusiastically following the rhythm of live gamelan music accompaniment. Every Wednesday, from 9.00 am – 12.00 am all the Mangkunagaran court employees (abdi dalem) from Langenprojo department who take care of court dance, gamelan music and singing, they themselves have to train to dance and to play on the gamelan.
Some dancers from STSI (Higher School of Arts) and SMKI (School of Performing Arts) sometimes are joining this art court exercises. The gamelan sounds are perfect and the dance movements are excellent. This compulsory art activity is supervised directly by the Gurus of Mangkunagaran dance i.e. Mr. R.M.T. Ronosuripto and Ms. Ibu Tarno and Ibu Umi Hartono.
There is no day without art and cultural activity in Mangkunagaran Palace, as seen in the program of Art, Culture and Tourist Promotion of Mangkunagaran Palace. The Puro Mangkunagaran is quite aware that Javanese Court Dance of Mangkunagaran style must be well preserved, maintained and developed accordingly by withholding firmly the principles of Joged Mataram (Mataram Palace).
The differences of some dance movements and/or of clothes/accessories/ornaments among the four palaces are of normal development, which have positive competitive value.
Bedaya Anglir Mendhung
Bedaya dance in also sacred in Puro Mangkunagaran. Bedaya Anglir Mendhung is the most sacred Bedaya dance, created by Sri Mangkoenagaran I, assisted by Kyai Gunasuta and Kyai Kidang Wulung.
Anglir Mendhung means something which looks like a cloud. It is depicting his feeling when he had to fight against his own father–in-law, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I. The dancers are 7 girls in a holy state. For the execution of this dance, a strict ritual must be performed, before and during the performance.
In fact, the gamelan music of this dance is based on gamelan music of Ketawang, the creation of Queen Kencanasari, the Goddess of the South Sea, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul. All dancers have to purify themselves by fasting for several days. They have to request permission and blessing from Sri Mangkoenagoro I, in front of his grave, to be able to perform Anglir Mendhung at their best. May God the Almighty protect them during the performance.
Ritual Uluk-Uluk requesting safety and blessing from God and Ratu Kencanasari is performed in the palace. A certain offering must be also conducted. The make-up and the dress of these dancers are like a bride of Surakarta Palace. Its color is dark blue, in accordance with the color of Prince Sambernjawa’s flag.
The dodod (a 9m long batik-cloth) of Cinde with design Bangun Tulak (against evil) calligraphy "ALLAH, HU" and other accessories and ornaments with Bangun Tulak designs, showing this dance is really a sacred one. During the dance performance, incense must be burned continuously, so everything and everybody are safe. By performing Bedoyo Anglir Mendhung:
There were another Bedaya dances in Puro Mangkunagaran, which had never been performed again for more than 200 years. There were Bedoyo Dirodometo (fighting elephant) and Bedoyo Sukopratomo (happy Warriors), both were performed by male dancers. The gamelan players and singers were also male.
The dances/fragments such as: Klono Jayengsari, Karno tinanding, Bondo Yudho, Bondo Boyo, Bondo Wala, Arjuna Sasrabahu – Sumantri were frequently performed.
During the reign of Sri Mangkoenagoro III & IV, dance and other forms of arts were flourishing. Sri Mangkoenagoro IV was a prominent artist and poet. His book "Wedotomo" is a masterpiece in Javanese literature. Many "People’s dances" had been adopted, creatively developed and popularized since that time, among other harverst dance, offering dance, Tayub dance and Gambyong dance.
The Gambyong name originated from the name of a girl-dancer from the village of Kaliyoso. The Langendriyan dance with stories of East Java kingdoms began. All dancers were female.
The Langendriyan dance began during the time of Sri Mangkoenagoro IV with the story of Damarwulan. This dance was developed by Sri Mangkoenagoro V where the dancers were wearing wayang clothes.
Sri Mangkoenagoro V, had preserved and developed successfully Srimpi Topeng-a masked Srimpi dance.
Once again, during the reign of Sri Mangkoenagoro VII, the arts and culture were well flourished P.B.M.N. abbreviation of Pamulangan Beksa Mangkunagaran (Mangkunagaran Dance Schooling) took care actively Javanese Court Dance with Mangkunagaran style.
The dance performance (Sendra Tari) with topics of Ramayana legend, with the story of Taman Soka was popular. The relation with Yogyakarta Palace was very close, as Sri Mangkoenagoro VII’s wife was Princess K.R. Timur, from Karaton Yogyakarta.
Bedaya Bedah Madiun was also a popular performance in Mangkunagaran Palace, alongside with the fragment Adaninggar – Kelaswara and Srimpi Muncar and Pandelori. The langendriyan was further developed and devided to became 5 episodes. Each episode lasts for 2.5 hours.
Sri Mangkoenagoro VIII reorganized the art department of the palace, with the establishment of Langenprojo, supervising activities in the field of dance, gamelan, sinden (singing) and wayang leather puppetry. The lessons and trainings were very intensive. The dancers have to train thrice a week in the lower part of the pendapa.
Sri Mangkoenagoro IX, at present, is continuing to preserve, maintain and develop Mangkunagaran cultural heritage. Needless to say, Mangkunagaran dance style is included in the program. It is quite a big challenge for Sri Mangkoenagoro IX, nowadays to minimally keep the continuos existence of his ancestor’s high valuable art and culture. The sound of gamelan music accompanying the dance lesson, can be heard in Mangkunagaran Palace or Prangwedanan everyday.
The dance lesson for the kids & youngsters ‘Suryasumirat’ under direct supervision of Prince G.P.H. Herwasto Kusumo, has daily training in the afternoon from Mondays to Fridays with guidance of several qualified gurus. The dance troupe of Mangkunagaran Palace has performed also outside the Puro, in the home country as well as abroad.
For official ceremony in the Puro, such as the celebration of coronation of K.G.P.A.A. Mangkoenagoro IX, a Bedaya dance is always performed, could be Bedaya Anglir Mendhung, Bedaya Suryasumirat, Bedaya Pulung or any other Bedayas chosen by the Leader of the Puro.
Joglosemar Online is grateful for the interview with:
(Suryo S. Negoro)