Ratoh Jaroe Dance, From Aceh to The World [Steempress #38]

The Asian Games program is currently taking place in Indonesia. The event was centered in Jakarta and Palembang. There was something very interesting at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games some time ago, namely the ratoh jaroe dance (hand dancing) which is a traditional dance from Aceh. This dance was performed by 1600 high school students randomly selected from all high schools in Jakarta. Their performance at the Asian Games opening ceremony was extraordinary. Thousands of participants who watched the opening ceremony were amazed by the appearance of the ratoh jaroe dancer. There are some people who say that the dance performed at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games is saman dance. Both of these dances come from Aceh and are almost similar. But we can distinguish between them. Saman dance is performed by men with odd numbers while the ratoh jaroe dance can be done by men or women and the number of dancers is even. Saman dance usually uses Gayo traditional clothing while the ratoh jaroe dance uses plain clothes combined with Acehnese songket cloth.


the cohesiveness shown was extraordinary. 1600 people can do the same movement without the slightest flaw. Not only that, they even made some amazing moves that have never been shown by any ratoh jaroe dancers before. I was truly amazed and proud to see the performance of this ratoh jaroe dancer. I am sure you will be amazed to see their actions, it is truly extraordinary. This dance is led by someone called a sheikh. Each time will change from one movement to another, the sheikh will give a long, high-pitched voice. Ratoh Jaroe’s dance is accompanied by traditional Acehnese instruments called rapa-i and gendang. The dancers will move from slow to fast and faster following the speed of Rapa-i and gendang.


In Aceh this dance is usually offered to welcome guests or in certain customary events. As an Acehnese, I feel proud of the Ratoh Jaroe dance that was performed at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games. This dance symbolizes education, religion, courtesy, heroism and togetherness. All that is clearly visible from this dance. All participants used closed clothes that showed Islam. The movements are also not flashy which shows manners. Togetherness is definitely obvious where 1600 dancers display the same movements and look very stunning.


Another amazing thing that was shown by ratoh jaroe dancers besides the change of motion that was unexpected was the change of color of their clothes which was very fast, even people asked how they could do it that fast without damaging the dance movement they were perform. After showing a series of beautiful movements, the dancers finally made a movement that formed a red and white flag as the color of the Indonesian flag. All the audience gave a very lively applause accompanied by cheers of joy as a form of appreciation to the dancers who had done hard work to show something extraordinary.

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