Delegates of Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia, a tourism promotion programme organised by Gaya Travel Magazine and supported by Tourism Malaysia, were recently treated to a special Perak folk dance presentation by Kumpulan Selendang Perak, a cultural dance troupe established in 1985.
At P.O.R.T. (Place of Remarkable Talent) where three dances were performed, namely Tarian Sayong, Tarian Dabus and Tarian Bubu, the objective was to promote ethnic culture and tradition in Perak.
First up was Tarian Sayong, a new dance choreographed by group manager, Herman bin Ibrahim, who was inspired by Kuala Kangsar’s iconic labu sayong (gourd-shaped clay jars). Mimicking the shapely labu, he thought that it was best performed by female dancers only. And he was right, as the dance, so feminine, was captivating – particularly to the male audience. HO HO HO!
Tarian Dabus, on the other hand, was presented by male dancers only. The dance, which originated from Sumatera, Indonesia, initially a martial art form, was first performed in Perak at Pasir Panjang. The dance is a combination of singing and dancing, plus a showcase of bravery, where the performers would stab themselves with “anak dabus”, a small metal equipment that looks like an egg-beater with a bell at the top.
And finally, there was Tarian Bubu. Bubu is a fish-trap made of bamboo, whereby in this dance, the bubu is dressed as a female. It is said that the fish-trap contained a spirit, invited by the chanting of mantras during the dance, and it was this spirit that caused the bubu to appear as though it was flying in all directions, thus the dancers had to hold on to it tightly.
In the traditional form of Tarian Bubu, only one fish-trap was used in this dance of thanksgiving by fishermen for a safe trip and bountiful harvest.
Over time, it has been improvised to include more fish-traps as an accessory. Moreover, the modern version of Tarian Bubu no longer has the chanting of mantras, therefore the dance performance is no more as scary as it used to be.
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