Jauk dance is a classical solo performance expressing the movements of a demon, Jauk is derived from a traditional play in which all the dancers, wearing frightening masks of the raksasa or demon type, enacted episodes from the Kawi versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata Like the dramatic Baris.
The harsh stare of the eyes, the thick, black moustache, and frozen smile give the masked Jauk dancer an uncanny effect of being from another world, populated by fearsome practitioners of evil. He wears a high, tasseled crown covering a thick mass of tangled hair, and gloves with long transparent fingernails that flitter incessantly to the music. As a mask dance.
Jauk is considered a high art to execute well. The dancer’s aim is to express the character revealed in the appearance of the mask-that of a strong, forceful personality.
Unlike the Baris dancer, a Jauk performer cannot rely on powerful facial expressions to convey feeling. He can dart his artificial looks here and there, but he is obliged to express his demoniac exuberance through his gestures alone. (The round, protruding eyes and tentacle like fingernails are the marks of identification for a demon.)
The Jauk dancer’s movements closely resemble those of the Baris. but his manner is more exaggerated and violent. He peers out to his audience like a crouching cat ready to leap upon its prey.
Suddenly he lunges, the music becomes frenetic with loud, clashing sounds, he spins to reach the perimeter of the stage: then stops, precise and controlled only the constant shimmering of the tassels and finger¬nails mirror his intensity. Slowly, he retreats, as if preoccupied by dark, treacherous thoughts.
And if his audience in the first rows are little children, they breathe a sigh of relief.
the Jauk play was prefaced by a series of abstract preludes in which individual dancers could show off their paces. From these solos evolved the present Jauk performance.
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