A biomechanic analysis of Javanese character types.

A project by Miguel Escobar Varela and Luis Carlos Harnández Barraza.


For this study, we were interested in seeing whether biomechanics could be used to investigate a question relevant to Javanse dance scholarship. We wanted to avoid a simplistic cross-cultural comparison or merely looking at practical questions such as injury preventing or teaching enhancement. Although we believe both possibilities to hold promise, we were here primarily interested in whether we could use the biomechanical toolkit to address questions relevant to dance scholars. The question we settled on is related to stylization and typology. We were interested in identifying the biomechanical markers of different character types for male dancers (refined, vigorous, vigorous-refined, simian, birdlike, and de- mon) in the dramatic Sendratari form of Yogyakarta. The reasons for focusing in this question require some discussion of Javanese dance theory and practice. Typology, or the classification of dances along several types is a key feature for the practice and appreciation of Javanese dance. Typology is central to the discursive sphere on dance, as well as to the appreciation and pedagogy of dance. Several researchers indicate that typology is also a key component of the Javanese worldview, aesthetic principles and general philosophy, and dance is just a reflection of this. In dance, there are regional types, dance types and character types.

A recording of standing motion for each character type can be found in the left side panel, as well as some comparative features that enable users to explore similiarities and differences among these character types.