Dance in Indonesia

Dance in Indonesia (Indonesian: Tarian Indonesia) reflects the country's diversity of ethnicities and cultures. There are more than 700 ethnic groups in Indonesia: Austronesian roots and Melanesian tribal forms are visible, and influences ranging from neighbouring Asian and even western styles through colonisation. Each ethnic group has its own dances: there are more than 3,000 original dance forms in Indonesia. The old traditions of dance and drama are being preserved in the many dance schools which flourish not only in the courts but also in the modern, government-run or supervised art academies.[1]

For classification purpose, the dances of Indonesia can be divided according to several aspects. In historical aspect it can be divided into three eras; the prehistoric-tribal era, the Hindu-Buddhist era and the era of Islam. According to its patrons, it can be divided into two genres; court dance and folk dance. In its tradition, Indonesian dances can be divided into two types; traditional dance and contemporary dance.

In Bali on 19 November 2011 UNESCO announced the traditional Saman dance from Aceh province as a world intangible cultural heritage. Saman dance is unique due to the speed of movement and harmony between dancers.[2]

17 Years of Sekar Jepun 2014-11-01 32
Oleg Balinese dance performed by a pair of dancers.

Historical eras

The Prehistoric Tribal Era

Papuan Dance from Yapen
Papuan tribal war dance from Yapen.

Prior to their contact with the outer world the people of the Indonesian archipelago had already developed their own styles of dancing, still somewhat preserved by those who resist outside influences and choose tribal life in the interior of Sumatra (example: Batak, Nias, Mentawai), of Kalimantan/Borneo (example: Dayak, Punan, Iban), of Java (example: Badui), of Sulawesi (example: Toraja, Minahasa), of the Moluccan Islands and of Papua (example: Dani, Amungme).

A Kabasaran war dance, performed at a parade, 2006
Kabasaran dance, Minahasa North Sulawesi.

Dances in Indonesia are believed by many scholars to have had their beginning in rituals and religious worship.[1] Such dances are usually based on rituals, like the war dances, the dance of witch doctors, and dance to call for rain or any agricultural related rituals such as Hudoq dance ritual of Dayak people. War dances such as cakalele of Maluku and kabasaran dance of Minahasa, North Sulawesi. Others are inspired by nature, such as the Tari Merak (Peafowl dance) of West Java. Ancient forms are usually characterised by repetitive movements like the Tor-Tor dance of the Batak people of (North Sumatra). The dancing also is meant to let the human's inner spirit come out, and also to calm or appease the spirits. Some of the tribal dances involving trance mental condition which interpreted as channelling the spirits through the dancer's body movements. Tari Sanghyang Dedari is a special dance of Bali, in which the dancers are pre-pubescent girls in trance, chasing away bad spirits. The dance of kuda lumping and keris dance also involve trance.

The Hindu-Buddhist Era

Ramayana Java
Lakshmana, Rama and Shinta in Ramayana ballet at Prambanan, Java.

With the advent of Dharmic religions in Indonesia, Hinduism and Buddhism were celebrated in ritual and in art. Although the poem originates in India, Ramayana and Mahabharata epic has long been adopted by the Javanese people. Etchings of the story can be found on temples dating back to 10th century CE, and has since then played a recurring role in ancient Javanese literature as well as wayang shows.[3]

They incorporated stories of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and also Panji cycles into dance-drama, which is called sendratari (dance-drama) or sometimes simply translated as "ballet", such as Ramayana Ballet of Java and Bali. Highly stylised methods of dances were developed and are still obvious nowadays, especially in the islands of Java and Bali. The Javanese Ramayana dance-drama is regularly staged and performed in 9th century Prambanan temple compound, Yogyakarta; while its Balinese counterpart is also performed in various Balinese temples throughout the island. The Javanese wayang wong dance-drama took stories from the episodes of Ramayana or Mahabharata Hindu epic. However, the dances are distinct to those of Indian. While hand gestures are still very important, Indonesian dancers do not have the Indian attention to mudra: instead the dances incorporated local forms. Javanese court dances stressed on graceful and slow movements while the dances of Balinese court are more dynamic and very expressive. The Javanese sacred ritual dance of Bedhaya has very gentle and elegant moves.[3] It is believed to have its root in 14th century Majapahit court or probably earlier, which originated as ritual dance performed by virgins to worship Indic deities such as Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu.

In Bali, dances has become the integral part of Hindu Balinese rituals. Experts believed that balinese dance derived from older dance tradition of Java. Friezes on East Javanese temples built during the 14th century show headdresses almost identical to those still being used for dances in Bali today. These represent a remarkable unbroken continuity of form at least 600 years old. Certain sacred dances are reserved and only performed during certain religious ceremony. Each Balinese dances have special functions, from sacred ritual dances performed only in Balinese temples such as sacred sanghyang dedari and Barong dance that involved trance, dance drama that retold the legends and popular stories such as legong and kecak, to the dance for welcoming guests such as pendet or social youth dance such as joged. The topeng dance also popular in Java and Bali, it often took story from Panji tales, originated from 12th century Kediri kingdom. The notable topeng dances are topeng Cirebon dance and topeng Bali dance. The Panji tales, telling the romance between Prince Panji Inu of the ancient Javanese kingdom of Jenggala with Princess Galuh Chandra Kirana of the neighboring kingdom of Kediri, continues to be a source of inspiration in both Javanese and Balinese dance traditions.[4]

The Islamic Era

KFT (Indonesia) performing in Jaca, España 02
Ratoh Duek dance performance from Aceh

Even as the new religion of Islam gradually penetrated the region, the native and dharmic dances continued to be popular. Artists and performers would still use the styles of the previous eras, making changes in stories (which took an Islamic turn) and clothing (which became more modest in respect of Islamic teachings). This change is obvious in Tari Persembahan from Jambi. The dancers are still adorned with the intricate gold of the Hindu/Buddhist era but the clothing is more modest.

The new era brought newer styles of dance: Zapin dances of the Malay people and Acehnese Tari Saman adopted dance styles and musics typical of Arabia and Persia, and combined them with indigenous styles to form a newer generation of dance in the era of Islam. The adoption of Persian and Arab musical instruments, such as rebana, tambur, and gendang drums that has become the main instrument in Islamic dances, as well as chant that often quotes Islamic chants.

Contemporary dances

Known contemporary dancers from Indonesia was Bagong Kussudiardja, which invented contemporary dance form inspired by the Javanese classical dance.


The court dances

Tari Golek Ayun-Ayun 9
Golek Ayun-ayun, a Javanese court dance of Yogyakarta

The dances in Indonesia reflects its diverse and long history. Several royal houses; the istanas and keratons still survived in some parts of Indonesia and become the haven of cultural conservation. The obvious difference between courtly dance and common folk dance traditions is the most evident in Javanese dance. Javanese stratified social class is reflected in its culture, where the upper noble class are more concentrated and deeply concern with refinement, spiritual and sophistication; while the commoners are usually more interested in entertainment and social value of the dance. As the result court dances are often have strict rules and disciplines preserved through generations, while folk dances are more liberated and open to any influences.

The royal patronage of arts and culture is often encouraged by the palace institution as the guardian of their traditions. For example, the Sultans of Yogyakarta Sultanate and Sunans of Surakarta, also nobles of Pakualaman and Mangkunegaran are known to create various Javanese court dances completed with gamelan composition to accompanied the dance. For example, the Suryo Sumirat dance school of Mangkunegaran court, opened its doors to public and foreign students eager to learn the royal Javanese dance. The mission is to not only produce new royal dancers but also, more importantly, to preserve ancient royal dance.[5]

The palace court traditions also evident in Balinese and Malay court which usually— just like Java—imposed refinement and prestige. Sumatran Malay courtly culture such as the remnant of Aceh Sultanate, Deli Sultanate in North Sumatra, and South Sumatra Sultanate, are more influenced by Islamic culture, while Java and Bali are more deeply rooted in their Hindu-Buddhist heritage. The Palembang dance of Gending Sriwijaya for example, still demonstrating the Hindu-Buddhist elements of gilded ornaments, but compared to its Javanese counterpart, it is rendered in more covered and modest costume of Aesan Gede.

The folk dances

Jaipongan Bunga Tanjung 03
Jaipongan Mojang Priangan, Sundanese traditional folk dance

The dance in Indonesia demonstrate the social complexity and the social stratifications of its people, it often reflect the social class and also degree of refinement. According to its patron, the folk dances were developed and fostered by common people, either in the villages or in the cities, in contrast of court dance that is developed through royal patronage. Indonesian folk dances are often relatively free from strict rules nor disciplines, although certain style of gestures, poses and movements are still preserved. The commoners folk dance is more concerned with social function and entertainment value than rituals.

The Javanese Ronggeng and Sundanese Jaipongan is the fine example of this common folk dance traditions. Both are social dances that are more for entertainment purpose than rituals. It often display movements that are considered inappropriate in refined courtly dances, as the result, the common folk dances were often mistakenly deemed too erotic or even too crude for court standard. However this traditions is alive and well in contemporary Indonesia since it is popular and supported by its people. Certain traditional folk dances has been developed into mass dance with simple but structurised steps and movements, such as Poco-poco dance from Minahasa North Sulawesi, and Sajojo dance from Papua.


Bali-Danse 0729a
Balinese temple dancer performing Sekar Jepun dance

The traditional dance

Traditional dance of Indonesia reflect the rich diversity of Indonesian people. The dance traditions in Indonesia; such as Balinese, Javanese, Sundanese, Minangkabau, Palembang, Malay, Aceh and many other dances traditions are age old traditions, yet also a living and dynamic traditions. Certain traditional dances might be centuries old, while some others might just created less than a decade ago. The creation of a new dance choreography but still within the frame of respected dance tradition and discipline is still possible. As the result, there is some kreasi baru (newly created) dances. The newly created dance could be the rediscovery and the revival of lost old traditions or a new interpretation, inspiration and exploration of traditional dances.

The Art Schools in Indonesia such as Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI) in Bandung, Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ) in Jakarta, Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI/Indonesian Art Institute) in Denpasar, Yogyakarta, and Surakarta all are fostering and encouraging their student to explore the dance traditions in Indonesia. Certain festival such as Bali Art Festival also known as the distinguished event for Balinese traditional dance choreographers to showcase their Balinese kreasi baru dances.

The contemporary dance

2011-06-05 TTF 05
Indonesian contemporary dance involved in a play performance.

Indonesian contemporary dance borrows influences from abroad, such as western ballet and modern dance. In 1954, two artists from Yogyakarta — Bagong Kusudiarjo and Wisnuwardhana — journeyed to the United States to study ballet and modern dance with a number of dance companies. When they returned to Indonesia in 1959 they brought with them a new artistic culture, which changed the face of movement and choreography and introduced the idea of individual expression to Indonesian dance.[6] The idea of dance as individual expression and artistic exploration rejuvenate the tradition-based dance discipline of traditional Indonesia, through exposure to artists from a wide range of cultural and artistic backgrounds. Native traditional dance traditions often influenced the contemporary dance in Indonesia, such as traditional Javanese dance form, pose and poise often took place in contemporary dances performances.

International dance collaborations also possible and often took place, such as the collaboration of Noh Japanese dance with Balinese and Javanese dance theatre. Another example is the collaboration of two dance traditions, between Indonesian Balinese Legong dance and Indian Bharata Natyam. Legong and Bharata Natyam's similarities extend to more than its roots or spirituality. Both are joyful celebrations of life and a shared classical heritage of culture and dance.[7]

Indonesian modern dance also showcased in Indonesian showbiz, such as the dance performance to accompany songs, music performances or entertainment. Today with rapid pop culture influences from abroad, especially United States, urban teen dances such as street dances also gain popularity among Indonesian youngsters.

List of dances

Indonesian dances. From left to right: Serimpi of Java, Legong of Bali, Piring dance of Minangkabau, Pajoge of Bugis, and Jaipongan of Sunda.

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Traditional Dance in Ubud
Piring dancer in Sarasehan Minangkabau
Child dancers, Sumbawa crop
Jaipongan Langit Biru 01 crop






  • Ratoh Duek
  • Ratoh Jaroe
  • Saman
  • Seudati
  • Likok Pulo
  • Rapai Geleng
  • Ranub lam Puan








  • Ma'badong

Bugis Makassar

  • Gandrang Bulo
  • Paduppa
  • Pajoge
  • Pakarena

Maluku and Papua


  1. ^ a b "The Indonesian Folk Dances". Indonesia Tourism. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  2. ^ Andi Abdussalam (19 April 2011). "UNESCO to recognize Aceh`s Saman dance". Antara
  3. ^ a b "A Tribute to the Female 'Force'". Jakarta Globe. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Juxtaposing Indonesia's Cultures Through Dance". Jakarta Globe. Archived from the original on 23 August 2015. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Keeping Tradition Alive, One Step at a Time". Jakarta Globe.
  6. ^ "Artistic Body Expression In Indonesian Society". Goethe Institut.
  7. ^ "Balinese and Indian Culture Dance Together". Jakarta Globe.

See also

America's Got Talent (season 11)

Season eleven of the reality competition series America's Got Talent was ordered on September 1, 2015. The season premiered on NBC on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Nick Cannon returned for his eighth and final season as host. Howie Mandel returned for his seventh season as a judge, while Mel B and Heidi Klum returned for their fourth season. Simon Cowell replaced Howard Stern as the fourth judge. The live shows began on July 26, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles instead of Radio City Music Hall in New York from previous years. Due to the 2016 Summer Olympics broadcast schedule on NBC, the show took a hiatus from August 9–17.Dunkin' Donuts sponsored the show for a second season, and this season again featured the golden buzzer for each judge and Cannon. Four guest judges joined the panel for the judge's cuts: George Lopez, Reba McEntire, Ne-Yo, and Louis Tomlinson. Each judge was given a golden buzzer.Grace VanderWaal was announced as the winner on September 14, 2016, making her the second female act and the second child act to win the show since season 1. Mentalist duo, The Clairvoyants, placed second, marking the first time that females placed in the top two positions. Magician Jon Dorenbos, an NFL long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, placed third.

Balinese dance

Balinese dance is an ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people of Bali island, Indonesia. Balinese dance is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive. Balinese dancers express the stories of dance-drama through the bodily gestures including gestures of fingers, hands, head and eyes.

There is a great richness of dance forms and styles in Bali; and particularly notable are those ritualistic dance dramas which involve Rangda, the witch, and the great beast Barong. Most of dances in Bali are connected to Hindu or traditional folk rituals, such as the Sanghyang Dedari sacred dance that invokes benevolent hyang spirits, believed to possess the dancers in a trance state during the performance. Other Balinese dances are not linked to religious rituals and are created for certain occasions or purposes, such as the Baris or Pendet welcoming dances and Joged dance, that is social dance for entertainment.

Balinese theatre

Balinese theatre and dramas include Janger dance, pendet dance performances and masked performances of Topèng. Performances are also part of funeral rituals involving a procession, war dance, and other rituals before the cremation of the patulangan. Balinese use the word sesolahan for both theatre and dance.

Arja (dance), Balinese dance-opera

Barong dance performances featuring Rangda, a dancer with keris, Jero Gede (black masked figures) and Jero Luh (white masked performers)Barong Ket: lion barong, the most common Barong, it is the symbol of a good spirit.

Barong Landung: giant barong, the form is similar to Betawi Ondel-ondel

Barong Celeng: boar barong

Barong Macan: tiger barong

Barong Naga: dragon (or serpent)Gambuh, plays with chanting and music including the use of long flute like instruments

Topèng, masked theatre

Calonarang, performances at temples during times of danger or difficulty that involve stories

Drama Gong, popular theatre developed in the late 1960s

Sendratari, a group ballet form that emerged in the 1960s that includes a dhalang puppeteer giving dialogue and often a gamelan (orchestra), Sendratari or Kècak chantJavanese Wayang shadow plays are performed in Bali.


Endang, Indang or Badindin dance is a style of dance in Indonesia and Malaysia that expresses the religious message of Islam.

The dance movements are dynamic accompanied with clapping and hand crossing with other dancers which follow the pace of the song. All the words of the song are usually about the history of the prophet Muhammad or advice according to Islam teaching. While dancing, the dancers hold rebana and there is a singer who sings a song. Islamic culture was brought to the Minangkabau areas of West Sumatra, Indonesia and Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia by merchants from Arabia and Persia simultaneously with the coming of Islamic teaching to Indonesia in the 14th century. It was brought later to Malaysia by the Minangkabau people. The dance is done in groups and usually accompanied by singing and playing small ‘rebana’ (Islamic drum).

Index of dance articles

This is an alphabetical index of articles related to dance.

Indonesia Menari

Indonesia Menari or Indonesia Dance is a collective dance movement or festival that is held every year in the month of November. It is arranged by Galeri Indonesia Kaya of Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation. It was first held in 2012. The dance festival held simultaneously at many locations in Indonesia.

It aims to introduce people to traditional Indonesian dances, to encourage more people, especially those of the young generation to learn traditional dances of Indonesia and to be proud of Indonesian culture.Usually performed in the form of mass dance with choreography that combines several traditional and modern dance. The event is also enlivened by the presence of art workers who also danced together in the festivity of the event in each venue.

Islam in Indonesia

Islam is the most adhered to religion in Indonesia, with 87.2% of Indonesian population identifying themselves as Muslim in 2010 estimate. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with approximately 225 million Muslims.

In terms of denomination, absolute majority (99%) adheres to Sunni Islam, while there are around one million Shias (0.5%), who are concentrated around Jakarta, and about 400,000 Ahmadi Muslims (0.2%). In terms of Islamic schools of jurisprudence, based on demographic statistics, 99% of Indonesian Muslims mainly follow the Shafi'i school, although when asked, 56% does not adhere to any specific school. Trends of thought within Islam in Indonesia can be broadly categorized into two orientations; "modernism" which closely adheres to orthodox theology while embracing modern learning, and "traditionalism" which tends to follow the interpretations of local religious leaders and religious teachers at Islamic boarding schools (pesantren). There is also a historically important presence of syncretic form of Islam known as kebatinan.

Islam in Indonesia is roughly considered to have gradually spread through merchant activities by Arab Muslim traders, adoption by local rulers and the influence of mysticism since the 13th century. During the late colonial era, it was adopted as a rallying banner against colonialism. Today, although Indonesia has an overwhelming Muslim majority, it is not an Islamic state, but constitutionally a secular state whose government officially recognizes six formal religions.


Ja'i is an Indonesian dance used in Sa'o Ngaza rites to express gratitude and excitement. The dance is usually displayed in the middle of the village; site as a sacred place of worship. Ja'i dance has the characteristics and uses little space in the form of rows and performed repeatedly. As a communal dance, the beauty and allure of Ja'i lies in uniformity, and the energy of the dancers.


Joged is a style of dance from the Island of Bali. The term Joged or Joget is also a common word for dance in Indonesia. The dance is typically accompanied by a gamelan ensemble of bamboo instruments called a gamelan joged bumbung. Balinese Joged dance is not a religious and ritual one, it is social dance for entertainment purposes only. During a Joged performance, a single or several female dancers will perform and invited male audience to dance with them. The dance often involving erotic movements and teasing, ranged from humorous to seducement interactions between the dancers with their male counterpart. The dance is quite comparable with other Indonesian dance traditions; such as those of Javanese Ronggeng and Sundanese Jaipongan.


The mirwās or marwas (Arabic: مرواس‎), plural marāwīs (Arabic: مراويس‎) is a small double-sided hand drum originally from the Middle East. It is a popular instrument in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, used in sawt and fijiri music. It is also common in Yemen.

Hadhrami migrants from Yemen took the instrument to Muslim Southeast Asia (especially Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei), where it is used in zapin and gambus musical genres. A similar drum of this area is the kendang.

Oleg (disambiguation)

Oleg is a Slavic masculine given name. Oleg may also refer to

Oleg (dance) in Indonesia

Oleg (film), a 2019 film

Russian ship Oleg, multiple articles

Oleg Cassini, Inc., an American fashion house

Outline of Indonesia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Indonesia:

Indonesia – sovereign island nation located in Southeast Asia comprising more than 17,000 islands of the Maritime Southeast Asia.

Peacock dance

The peacock dance or peafowl dance is a traditional Asian folk dance that describes the beauty and the movement of peacock. There are several peacock dance traditions developed in Asia, among others are peacock dances of Myanmar, and in the western and northern parts of Cambodia, West Java in Indonesia, also peacock dances of Indian subcontinent in Southern India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

The mayilattam (Tamil:மயிலாட்டம்), also known as peacock dance, is performed by girls dressed as peacocks during the harvest festival of Thai Pongal in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In Indonesia it is known as the peafowl dance (Merak dance or Tari Merak) and originated in West Java. It is performed by female dancers inspired by the movements of a peafowl and its feathers blended with the classical movements of Sundanese dance. its one of new creation dance composed by sundanese artist and choreographer Raden Tjeje Soemantri around 1950’s. This dance performed to welcoming honourable guest in a big event also occasionally performed in Sundanese wedding ceremony. This dance also one of Indonesian dance performed in many international events, such as in Perahara festivals in Sri Lanka.


A qanbūs or gambus (Arabic: قنبوس‎) is a short-necked lute that originated in Yemen and spread throughout the Arabian peninsula. Sachs considered that it derived its name from the Turkic komuz, but it is more comparable to the oud. The instrument was related to or a descendant of the barbat. It has twelve nylon strings that are plucked with a plastic plectrum to generate sound, much like a guitar. However, unlike a guitar, the gambus has no frets. Its popularity declined during the early 20th century reign of Imam Yahya; by the beginning of the 21st century, the oud had replaced the qanbūs as the instrument of choice for Middle-Eastern lutenists.

Yemen migration saw the instrument spread to different parts of the Indian Ocean. In Muslim Southeast Asia (especially Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei), called the gambus, it sparked a whole musical genre of its own. Today it is played in Johor, South Malaysia, in the traditional dance Zapin and other genres, such as the Malay ghazal and an ensemble known as kumpulan gambus ("gambus group"). Kumpulan gambus can also be found active in Sabah, especially in the Bongawan district of East Malaysian Borneo. In the Comoros it is known as gabusi, and in Zanzibar as gabbus.

Sundanese dance

Sundanese dances is a dance tradition that is a part of ritual, artistic expression as well as entertainment and social conduct among the Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia. Sundanese dance is usually cheerful, dynamic and expressive, with flowing movements in-sync with the beat of kendang accompanied with Gamelan degung music ensemble.

In Sundanese culture the term ngibing means "to dance", but it is indeed performed in particular Sundanese style, usually performed between male and female couple. In West Java, all it takes is a woman's voice and a drum beat to make a man get up and dance. Every men there breach ordinary standards of decorum and succumb to the rhythm at village ceremonies or weddings. The music the men dance to varies from traditional gong degung ensembles to the contemporary pop known as dangdut, but they consistently dance with great enthusiasm. Henry Spiller in "Erotic Triangles" draws on decades of ethnographic research to explore the reasons behind this phenomenon, arguing that Sundanese men use dance to explore and enact contradictions in their gender identities. Framing the three crucial elements of Sundanese dance—the female entertainer, the drumming, and men's sense of freedom—as a triangle.

Where the Hell is Matt?

Where the Hell is Matt? is an Internet phenomenon that features a video of Dancing Matt (Matt Harding) doing a dance "jig" in many different places around the world in 2005. The video garnered popularity on the video sharing site YouTube. There are now five major videos plus two outtakes and several background videos on YouTube. Matt dances alone in the first videos. In 2008 others join with him doing the dance "jig"; in 2010 he does the Diski Dance in South Africa. In 2012 he works with other dancers, sometimes using a local dance or another dance step.While working in Australia for Activision on the project All Humans Must Die, Harding claimed that: "My life had become this rhythmic migration from bubble to bubble. You wake up in your apartment bubble, you get in your car bubble, you go to your work bubble, you get in your car, and then you go to you know, whatever, the outdoor shopping plaza bubble, back in your car bubble, back in your apartment bubble. There wasn’t a lot of exposure to the outside world … it’s really insulating." Quitting his job he traveled the world from 2003 to 2004, known by his friends for a particular dance, and while video recording each other in Vietnam in May 2003, his travel companions suggested he add the dance. The videos were uploaded to his website for friends and family to enjoy. After completing a second journey to Africa in 2004, Harding edited together 15 dance scenes, all with him center frame, with the background music "Sweet Lullaby" by Deep Forest. The original song uses samples from a dying Solomon Islands language which was recorded in 1971 by a French ethnomusicologist at the Solomon Islands near Papua New Guinea. The song, "Rorogwela" was sung by a young woman named Afunakwa. According to the video "Where the Hell is Afunakwa" by Matt Harding, Afunakwa died in 1998.

The video was passed around by e-mail and eventually became viral, with his server getting 20,000 or more hits a day as it was discovered, generally country by country due to language barriers, before the launch of major video upload sites.

Harding created a second version of the video in 2006, with additional dancing scenes from subsequent travels, called "Dancing 2006". At the request of Stride, a gum brand, he accepted sponsorship of this video, since he usually travels on a limited budget. Harding states:

"I went in very wary about working with a corporate sponsor but ... they didn’t want to make a commercial for their gum out of it. They’ve got commercials; you can see them on TV all the time. But they’d seen what was going on on the internet – and by that time YouTube had taken off and it was becoming a big deal … and a lot of companies they want to be a part of that. But it’s very very difficult, too, because as soon as a company gets in there and starts making things, we as viewers, a switch flicks in your head and you know you are watching an ad and you interpret it differently. So they said, ‘We want to help you make it, but we’re not making it.’"The video, with more than 18 million views, shows Harding dancing for 3 to 7 seconds apiece in 36 locations mostly in front of distinct landmarks. The evident advertising only comes with two Stride logo watermarked scenes halfway into the video and a final credit. In August of 2008, Harding gave a talk at the Ignite conference in Seattle where he described how dancing by himself had become “boring” whereas dancing with others was far more interesting. For his newest video Harding had developed a listserv for every country from which he received an email, created a digital sign-up sheet for visit requests, and notified people when he would come to their country. Released on June 20, 2008, the third video is the product of 14 months of traveling in 42 countries. The background music/song of this video is known as "Praan" composed by Garry Schyman and sung by Palbasha Siddique, with lyrics adapted from the poem "Stream of Life," a part of the Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore.As of August 2008, Harding is represented by Creative Artists Agency. His videos are viewable on YouTube, Google Video, Vimeo and his own site His "Where the Hell is Matt? (2008)" video has been watched over 43,700,000 times on YouTube since 2011 and Harding's YouTube channel is ranked "#83 - Most Subscribed (All Time) - Directors" as of December 22, 2010.On June 20, 2012, 4 years after his third video, Harding released "Where the Hell is Matt? 2012". The video features Matt and many others dancing in 71 locations, comprising 55 countries and 11 US states. The video uses the song "Trip the Light", composed by Garry Schyman and sung by Alicia Lemke. The song was made available on iTunes, along with "Praan" and the song titled "Dance Outtakes Song" used in a video released on July 11, 2012, that features outtakes as well as locations which did not make the final video.

Drawing on the practice of Culture Jams, the Situationist International movement and the practices of incorporation and excorporation, Milstein and Pulos conclude that "while some of Harding’s videos are tied to corporate sponsorship, the arc of his projects also argues for the possibility of reorienting oneself with others to keep one step ahead of incorporation – even, ironically, while actively sponsored. This sense of possibility is essential in contemporary society as even not-for-profit public institutions – including universities and philanthropic organizations – seek out sponsorship from multinational corporations."On November 2015, Harding launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the making of a new video. Backers were allowed to vote on places where they would like him to go to for his new videos and he raised $146,075 out of a $125,000 goal. Via social media, he also broadcast the places where he would be dancing and invited netizens to participate in the making of his new video. By October 2016, he has finished his global dancing tour and is finalizing the edit of the video.


Zapin (Jawi: زافين) is a Malay dance form that is popular in Malaysia (especially in the state of Johor, Pahang and Selangor), in Indonesia, especially in Malay-populated provinces in Sumatera (Riau Province, Jambi province, Riau Islands Province, North Sumatera, and Bangka-Belitung Islands) and West Kalimantan, and in other Malay populated countries like Brunei Darussalam and Singapore. It is believed to have been introduced by Arab, Muslim missionaries from the Middle East in the fourteenth century.

In the old days, only males were allowed to perform; nowadays, female dancers are included. It used to be performed exclusively for religious ceremonies but through the years it has become a form of traditional entertainment, hence the participation of female dancers is allowed.

The dancers usually perform in pairs and are accompanied by a traditional music ensemble which normally consists of the gambus, accordion, guitar, bass, synthesizer, rebab, marwas (bongos), rebana (drum) and dok.

It was also introduced to Singapore and Brunei before the colonial days of Singapore. It was believed that it was introduced to Singapore in 1937.

There are numerous types of zapin, and each type varies by the movement and style of dance:

Zapin Api (Riau)

Zapin Melayu Johor (Johor)

Zapin Pulau

Zapin Tenglu

Zapin Tenglu 2

Zapin Lenga

Zapin Pekajang

Zapin Arab

Zapin Jambi (Jambi Province)

Zapin Singapura (Singapore)

Zapin Sindang (Sarawak)

Zapin Sekaki (North Sumatera)

Zapin Pesisir (Riau Islands Province)

Zapin Tembung (West Kalimantan)

Dance in Asia
Sovereign states
States with
limited recognition
Dependencies and
other territories
Dance in Oceania
Sovereign states
Associated states
of New Zealand
and other territories


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