ARCHIPELAGO ARCHIVES STUDY # 06

Tracing Alus in Central Java



As patronised in the palaces of Surakarta and Jogyakarta, Javanese court dances manifest the quality of Alus, not too far from the Sanskrit Alasya, languorousness. But while Indian dance aesthetic associates it almost habitually with the female (Alasa-kanya), it is interpreted as a ‘soft male’ quality in Javanese dance aesthetic.

Between the dance and its dancer, Alus creates at once sensual folds and dispassionate repose, as between water and lotus.

(Excerpts from letters to Chandralekha)
Image: Dancers at Mangkunegaran Palace (Surakarta)