The History of Malay Traditional Dance

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Court Dance


Traditional court dances entertained Malay royalty and the elite ruling class. Maidens and ladies-in-waiting of the Royal Court performed dances of slow, graceful movements that often began from a seated position and gradually progressed to a kneeling to standing position. The Asyik dance, performed at royal weddings, is a command performance associated with Patani and Kelantan regions of the northeast Malay peninsula.

Folk Dances


Folk dances often celebrate community activities or occasions such as harvesting or fishing. Malay culture has close ties with the kampong, or village. Rituals and depictions of nature and bird movements often contribute important dance elements. According to Dance Malaysia, some folk dances invoke the spirits of land, wind and sun.

Examples of Folk Dances


The joget dance has roots in Portuguese folk dance introduced during the era of the spice trade. This fast-paced synchronized dance performed by couples displays a lively combination of graceful movement and humor. The silat dance includes sparring and angular movements based on martial arts or theatrical forms. Drums and other instruments accompany this elegant routine.
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