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Thread: Music and Dance of Southeast Asia

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Music and Dance of Southeast Asia

    I have always been enamored of southeast Asian "classical" dance. Much of it, if one reads something of its history, is actually rather recent in its current form. The dance of Cambodia/Kampuchea had to be reconstructed following the devastation of the Khmer Rouge horror, and the Bharatanatyam dance of India today is also a reconstruction of perceived "ancient" Indian dance of many centuries back in time, as is likely true for Balinese dance. Worldwide, a lot of "folkloric" dress, art, music, dance is in some sense a product of 19th or early 20th century re-imagination or even re-invention--the case of Scotland and Sir Walter Scott and friends, and George IV comes to mind. But that is no impediment to my enjoyment of the dancing in question. Attractive, supple, highly-trained, beautifully dressed young women gravely executing their memorized steps and poses in exacting detail, can never fail to interest me.

    I'll start here with this Cambodian/Kampuchean example. It is very slow, calm, measured. The details of hand and foot position and attitude are obviously of central importance to the dance's proper execution, and it's interesting to compare this with, say, Irish dance where the body is held rigidly immobile and the focus is on footwork alone.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VCLq-3PjtEE
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Nov-23-2016 at 15:41.

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    Here is an example of Indian Bharatanatyam dance. It is a long piece, telling a bit of the Ramayana. One can skip forward in the clip to about 5:00, where the narrator gives a brief summary in English of the story depicted. The dance itself is hypnotic. I am amazed at the training and the feat of memory involved in executing this dance. Enjoy! I do!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LhrhG97GBn8

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    I'll finish this segment with an example of Balinese dance. Here we have two protagonists, a woman and man, both elaborately dressed, and showing a lot of body English in their interaction with one another. Watch especially the woman's hands and fingers--there are all kinds of messages being sent here. Fascinating!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KYkNZ8AggJk

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    I love these beautiful SE Asian women is their spectacular traditional garb. I lived with a Vietnamese woman for 25 years, and we attended many weddings, and she had a few of the beautiful dresses. That video looks more Indian. Sadly, like most people, the Vietnamese people I knew didn't have much interest in these traditions. They all listened to westernized Vietnamese pop music.

    But anyway, the weddings and parties were always spectacular! And the food was out of this world! My ex-girlfriend is kind of a lone princess, and she maintains a healthy detachment from it all. She always said the Vietnamese Americans were always trying to out do each other, and spending way too much money on this stuff. Many of them left their country with nothing, so they go crazy in America working 80 hrs a week and buying BMWs, Mercedes, and Lexus automobiles. My girl Hai (number 2) came from a well to do family, so she didn't hunger for the material things.

    In traditional societies where they repect their elders, parents are number one, and first born is number two. So many first born Vietnamese children are called Hai as a nickname. Second born get called Ba, or number 3.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    Getting to know a little about another culture is one way of helping humans to evolve. It can make you sick and horrified to know your government bombed and murdered millions of these beautiful people.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Here is an example of Indian Bharatanatyam dance. It is a long piece, telling a bit of the Ramayana. One can skip forward in the clip to about 5:00, where the narrator gives a brief summary in English of the story depicted. The dance itself is hypnotic. I am amazed at the training and the feat of memory involved in executing this dance. Enjoy! I do!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LhrhG97GBn8
    Love this one. Great rhythms also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Casebearer View Post
    Love this one. Great rhythms also.
    Watching this dance, one speculates whether "thumbs up" originated with the Roman emperors in the Colosseum or with Bharatanatyam. I give her storytelling a big "thumbs up"; it seems to be an integral gesture in the tale.

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    I enjoy Indonesia dance styles. Here is from Moluccas :

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    I thought the dance from the Moluccas looked familiar. So I went into the memory banks and came up with an extraordinarily similar dance from Taiwan, allegedly of the aboriginal people of the central mountains there. Anthropologists now know that many of the populations of Southeast Asia, including Taiwan, and further east into the Pacific (Polynesia), share a common linguistic ancestry. So it is remotely possible that this similarity is genuine and very old. But my guess would be that both the Taiwanese and the Moluccan versions of this dance are quite modern inventions set up by impresarios hoping to craft an "authentic" folkloric tradition for a population with which to beguile tourists.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3M2kPZMe-_4

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    I'm no expert but somehow both dances somehow also seem quite similar to European folk dances or court dances (except for the use of these big sticks).

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    Giving a bump to an interesting thread courtesy of Strange Magic -




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    Indonesian Dance Part Two - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwJaaltRxMo

    Indonesian Dance Part Three - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIzhapk-AVI

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