Umbrella dance is a traditional art originating from Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatra. The Umbrella Dance is often performed in every Minangkabau dance performance. This dance is usually performed at an opening party and other events.
This traditional dance is performed both as entertainment and as an artistic performance. The dancers are an even number, consisting of three pairs who use umbrellas as their trademark.
History of Umbrella Dance
The history of the Umbrella Dance is closely related to the drama art called toonel during the Dutch colonial period. Drama toonel is an art born under the influence of a group of artists from the Malay Peninsula.
The art of toonel drama shows the comedy art of the Malay aristocrats in West Sumatra. In the toonel drama performances, it is usually accompanied by other artistic performances in the form of Umbrella Dance.
Initially, the Umbrella Dance was used only to distract from the toonel drama performance. As the drama itself developed, around the 1920s, the Umbrella Dance also received a warm welcome from the people of Bukit Tinggi.
The Umbrella dance is different from other Minangkabau dances with a Malay style. This dance was first arranged in the form of a theater by Muhammad Rasjid Manggis in the 1920s. Then, the dance was organized by Sitti Agam. Through Sitti Agam, the Umbrella Dance is arranged using the theme of the association of young people.
Sitti Agam created a story with a picture of the lives of school teenagers who live in the city and are free from the traditional kungkung. Well, what’s interesting, all the actors are women, including the musicians.
This was done to boost the status of women, which at that time was customary forbidding women to have careers outside Rumah Gadang.
Siti Agam became the first person to organize the Payung Dance and at the same time participate in the dance in a toonel drama which she directed. This has become history where men’s art activities are carried out separately from women’s, including the audience.
The development of the Umbrella Dance was then driven by Sariamin or known as Saliasih. In preparing these traditional dances, Saliasih emphasizes the differences in terms of cultivation. Apart from that everything is still the same.
Until the 1960s, this dance was very well known by the Minangkabau community and other Indonesian people. Some even think that enjoying Minangkabau culture will not be complete without seeing the Umbrella Dance performance.
The Meaning and Philosophy of Umbrella Dance
Umbrella dance has meaning and philosophy. Based on its origin, this traditional dance depicts love and affection. This dance symbolizes the association of young people narratively about a pair of teenagers’ outings.
An Umbrella Dance, the property itself has a specific meaning. Well, this is the meaning of the properties used by the dancers.
Umbrella means a husband’s protection and affection for his wife. The umbrella used by male dancers symbolizes the husband as a pillar of the family that protects his wife. Male dancers will perform umbrella movements for female dancers.
While the scarf worn by female dancers symbolizes the bond of holy love and full of loyalty, Shawl also has a meaning in the form of readiness to build a household. Female dancers will attach a scarf to a male dancer when performing dance moves.
The Umbrella Dance is accompanied by a song entitled Babendi-bendi to the Tanang River. The song tells the story of a husband and wife who go on vacation and honeymoon to a quiet river.
Well, that’s a glimpse of Umbrella Dance. This traditional Minangkabau dance is unique. Apart from the historical side, this pair dance does not have to be done by men and women but can be done by other women.
Hopefully, this information can be helpful for you. Keep preserving traditional arts in Indonesia.