Graceful tribute to Javanese history

The beaches of Banyuwangi in East Java came alive on Saturday as hundreds of dancers performed the traditional Gandrung dance at the annual Gandrung Sewu festival.

This year's festival was based on Raden Mas Alit, appointed the first regent of Banyuwangi in 1774, who was faced with a difficult choice: following the orders of the Dutch occupiers or siding with the local community in an uprising.

The Gandrung dance, which has several variations, was originally performed to give thanks for a good harvest. Popular in East Java, Lombok and Bali, it is now often performed at social events and as a tourist attraction.

Over 1,000 dancers took part in this year's Gandrung Sewu festival.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2018, with the headline 'Graceful tribute to Javanese history'. Print Edition | Subscribe