Cendrawasih Dance 4_bw

I’ve watched the Cendrawasih dance several times now. Even though each performance features different dancers on a different stage, it is always captivating. The Cendrawasih dance is neither classical nor sacred in Bali; rather it is a relatively new dance with choreography inspired by classical dance routines.

CendrawasihThe last time I watched this dance was back in February. The rain drizzled down as I followed the crowd through the muddy path amidst a bamboo forest in Sidembunut Village.

After a few minutes, we arrived at Pondok Santa Phala, an art space, just in time for the performance.

Under the grey skies which were heavy with clouds, a group of beautiful dancers from the Hasta Gina Dance Troupe performed the Cendrawasih Dance created by Swasthi Wijaya Bandem in 1988.

The dance was inspired by the beauty of a bird originally from Papua, the Cendrawasih. Incidentally, this special bird has a deep meaning and purpose in Balinese cultural life.

It is said that in an epigraph (Yama Purwana Tatwa), that the sacred bird unleashes the jiva or soul to the ultimate destination.

Cendrawasih Dance 1_bw

This dance is unique for the elegance of the moves but also for the pretty red and gold adornments worn by the dancers. Swatsthi designed these beautiful costumes as well as choreographing the routines. The sparkling costume is completed with a gold yellow extension at the back to imitate the bird’s tail and stylish headdress with a golden crest just like the bird’s head.


Text & Photos by Kartika D. Suardana