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JAVANESE DANCE IN SURINAME


INTRODUCTION

There are several types of Javanese dance in Suriname. Most dances are based on the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Embassy of Indonesia introduced the last years dancing styles from Indonesia which were not popular here yet. The most popular Javanese dance in Suriname is the Jaran Kepan, which was brought from Java by the contraction laborours.

JARAN KEPANG

The Jaran Kepang is a spectacular folk-dance and is very popular in Suriname. Jaran Kepang means weaved bamboo hobby-horse. The dancers perform dances like horses with a rider on its back. They ride during the dance on a flat hobby-horse made of weaved bamboo or leather (skin of a cow). At the start of the dance they orderly dance and move like a horses according to the rhythm of the music. After a certain moment some of the dancers instantaneously go into trance and act completely like horses. They run, jump and move like horses, some of them act calmly and most of them wildly. They drink during the trance enormous volumes of water, eat raw grasses, raw banana leaves, flowers and raw un-hulled rice grains like real horses.

The Jaran Kepang performance is accompanied by gamelan music. The "gambuh", who has the mystical power, is the leader of the group and is responsible for the trance. He gives instructions to the group and to the onlookers.

Gamelan orchestra accompanying the Jaran Kepang performance. Jaran Kepang festival, Sana Budaya, Paramaribo, 2002. Photo copyright 2002 Moekiran A. Amatali

Prior to the start of the performance the "gambuh" and his assistant pray and do some ceremonies. During the dance he gives a certain sign and the dancers instantaneously go into trance. He also get the dancers out of trance after the dance and the performance.

Ceremony prior to the Jaran Kepang trance dance. Jaran Kepang festival, Sana Budaya, Paramaribo, 2002. Photo copyright 2002 Moekiran A. Amatali

The Jaran Kepan performance was brought by the contracting labourers from Java/Indonesia and has its development here. Currently at some performances the dancers also act like other animals like apes, tigers and snakes during the trance.

The djepaplok, part of the dancers. Jaran Kepang festival, Sana Budaya, Paramaribo, 2002. Photo copyright 2002 Moekiran A. Amatali

Nowadays the Jaran Kepang performance is executed at several occasions within the Javanese society. As mentioned before the Jaran Kepang is popular in Suriname and is also performed at public and national activities.

The Jaran Kepang trance dance. Jaran Kepang festival, Sana Budaya, Paramaribo, 2002. Photo copyright 2002 Moekiran A. Amatali

Several times a Jaran Kepang festival has been organized by the Union Commemoration Javanese Immigration, aiming the promotion and development of Jaran Kepang.

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Copyright 2001-2002 Moekiran A. Amatali