December 17, 2011

Jatilan, Javanese Trance Dance

In Kajawen, the original spiritual practices in Java, trance dancing plays a part. For a wedding that was held in a village near Yogya, I got to see one of these dances. The dancers' bodies were entered by spirits who danced and ate flowers and incense. The air was intense and I imagine it takes a lot to trust to allow your soul to leave your body. After dancing the souls are brought back to the dancers body, and the spirits are cast out. Jatilan has it all, men in garish makeup reminiscent of women, alligators, people getting whipped and eating weird things, etc. Check it out.