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Legong Dance [1928, Bali]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0073
Run Time
0h 4m 8s
Date Produced
Legong is a form of Balinese dance, usually telling a story, performed by prepubescent girls.  This film records a performance by a group of Legong dancers, intercut with a few scenes from nearby life in Bali.
The film begins with a shot of many Legong dancers sitting in a square formation with some young male dancers. A few dancers perform at the center of the square, and the rest perform small movements while sitting.

The film then cuts to a shot of a row of Balinese people sitting beside a ditch (perhaps a canal in wetter months?).  It is unclear if they are watching a performance off-camera or waiting for something. The film then cuts again to a group of women with baskets on their heads, apparently pausing in the middle of their errands.

Next, the film cuts back to the square of legong dancers, but this time the camera shoots from a different side of the square.  Again, two dancers are moving around the center while one (perhaps the central storyteller) is seated right at center; the rest are seated in the surrounding square and performing simpler choreography.  The men seated on two of the sides in white wrapped hats (much like turbans) then begin bowing their heads in a circular motion. The film cuts several more times to capture different segments of the dance, always with the two main dancers moving in the middle.  An audience is visible in the background. 

Eventually, the film cuts to a MCU of a single dancer adorned in a complex and extravagant costume--the intricacies of her hand movements and facial expressions are visible, and she is also speaking, perhaps telling the story as she dances it.  She is soon sitting and flanked by two other dancers.

The film then cuts to a dancer disguised as a large bird--this is a large dancer, perhaps an adult male.  This dancer hops around in a deep crouch to imitate a bird's hops.  It is then seen interacting with the dancers in the center of the square, clearly performing the plot of a story.  It eventually stops moving, remaining in a stationary crouch, but the camera remains trained on this dancer, suggesting he or she is still speaking or otherwise performing.  Finally, the group of men seated on one side of the square stand up--perhaps signalling the end of the story?  The film ends here.
Related Place
Bali (production location of)