Legong is a form of Balinese dance characterized by intricate finger movements, complicated footwork, and expressive gestures and facial expressions. Legong probably originated in the 19th century as royal entertainment. Legend has it that a prince fell ill and had a dream in which two maidens danced to gamelan music. When he recovered, he arranged for such dances to be performed. Others believe that the Legong originated with the sanghyang dedari, a ceremony involving voluntary possession of two young girls by beneficent spirits, according to Miquel Covarrubias in his book, Island of Bali. Traditionally, legong dancers were girls who have not yet reached puberty. They start training from about the age of five. These dancers are regarded highly in the society and usually become wives of royal personages or wealthy merchants. Once married, they stop dancing.
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