Tarian Alu-Alu of the Melanau Ethnic Group
When one thinks of funerals, it is always a solemn and silent occasion but this is a bit different for the Melanau ethnic group. The Melanau ethnic group is indigenous to Sarawak and they are also known as A-Likou meaning river people in the Mukah dialect.
Traditionally for Melanaus, they will perform the Alu-Alu dance as a means to comfort the relatives and friends of the deceased to lessen their sadness on the passing of their loved one. It is an important part of the funeral rites and it is usually performed at night starting from the first to the fourth night of the funeral. The Melanau community was close together back then, so when there are passing of a community member, the grievances were shared together amongst the community.
Nowadays, the dance is more commonly performed during gatherings and it often attracts the attention of foreigners due to its uniqueness and specialty. There are even dance workshops where tourists and visitors get to try out the Alu-Alu dance during the Rainforest World Music Festival 2019 (RMWF 2019) held at the Sarawak Cultural Village.
Tarian Alu-Alu is like the traditional skipping rope but with bamboo sticks instead of ropes. The dancers have to be agile and careful to ensure that their legs can skip between the bamboo sticks safely without being hit or pinched by the sticks. The bamboo sticks are normally 6 feet long and they are held by two dancers, one on each end. The sticks are hit in unison by the two dancers to produce a rhythm. Sometimes, up to 4 sticks are used and held by 4 dancers. The tempo of the hitting can also be increased to challenge the skills of the dancer skipping between the bamboo sticks.
Indeed, it is a very interesting and unique dance and we can definitely see why it is able to capture the attention of tourists and the locals. We hope that you could enjoy and participate when the opportunity comes to try out the Alu-Alu dance.
(Tarian Alu-Alu-Image taken from flickr.com)
(Participants trying Tarian Alu-Alu-Image taken from newsarawaktribune.com)
Allure, mysticism, folklore in the dances of Sarawak. BorneoTalk. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.borneotalk.com/allure-mysticism-folklore-in-the-dances-of-sarawak/.
Abang Taha, A., & Ali, N. (2019). Tourists revel in traditional dance workshop at RWMF. New Sarawak Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.newsarawaktribune.com.my/tourists-revel-in-traditional-dance-workshop-at-rwmf/.
Seni Tari | PDF. Scribd. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/402167434/Seni-Tari.