Surabaya – Part 5 (Balai Pemuda – Reog Ponorogo Dance)

We gonna had another Pak Supir today which is Pak Marji since Pak Asyirin have to attend a wedding in his neighbourhood. Pak Marji arrived somewhere around 8.30am and i told him that we wanted to go straight to the Grahadi. In the Colonial Era, this is the residence of the Governor of East Java. Along the way i’ve made a short discussion with Pak Marji asking him about the performance that they normally had every weekend which is ‘Reog’ at the nearby Balai Pemuda (Youth Hall – one of the historical building in Surabaya). ‘Reog’ dance is actually a vagarious traditional dance originated from the glorious of the Kediri Kingdom around the 15th century.

Reog is a traditional Indonesian dance form. There are many types of Reogs in Indonesia, but the most notable ones are Reog Ponorogo (East Java) and Reog Sunda (West Java). Although both share a similar name, there is no connection nor similar theme among these traditions. Reog Ponorogo seems to be the kind of dance drama that demonstrate physical strength and extravagant lionpeafowl mask and costumes, while Reog Sunda is a lot more like a traditional musical dance drama and comedy.

Source: Wikipedia

Me : Pak, di Balai Pemuda itu lagi ada upacara kebudayaan ya jam 8.30 pagi? Reog? Bagus ngak?

Pak Marji : Saya juga ngak pernah tonton. Mungkin bisa ke sana dulu. Dekat aja ni.

Once we reached there, we parked our car and as mentioned by Pak Marji, the show gonna start just in a few minutes. Just right in time! I browsed around the area and my eyes keep roaming looking for a subject. Basically, we really don’t have any idea what is ‘Reog’ is all about. Luckily, the girl next to us explained the whole stories of ‘Reog’ since her husband is also the main player of ‘Reog’ and eventually from Ponorogo itself. She explained to us confidently. The one we’re going to watch is Reog Ponorogo. I bet we’re the only non-Indonesian there. I considered the performance to have a full house crowds and i told myself that this must be very interesting.

Spotted the small players of ‘Reog’. Cute huh? Can’t wait to see them to perform.DSCN7812-2

Reog is a traditional dance that become the main identity for Ponorogo Regency. Reog National Festival is held every years along the anniversary of Ponorogo regency and Grebeg Suro celebration. Reog dance is also staged full moon nightly in paseban, Ponorogo town square. Reog told about the struggle for a prince who will propose to a beautiful princess. Reog Ponorogo tells the story of a mythical battle between the King of Ponorogo and the magical lion-like creature called Singa Barong. Singa Barong is a large mask usually made of tiger’s or leopard’s head skin, upon the mask attached a large fan adorned with peafowl feathers. The Singa Barong mask was notoriously heavy, the dancer of Singo Barong bear the mask about 30 – 40 kg weight and supported by the strength of their teeth.

Source: Wikipedia

Check out the main dancer who are wearing the Singo Barong mask weight about 40 kg! Oh my. And they did a few stunt by turning the whole body, slammed themselves on the floor and immediately stand up. Imagine that! As mentioned the whole mask worn by a man by biting the wood inside the mask.


The Singa Barong mask and one of the main player (with black shirt). They are also called as ‘Dadak Merak’.

The person behind the mask. I told them that I’m super impressed with their performance. Amazing!


While waiting for the next performance, i saw this one group of young girls called ‘Young Jatil’ or ‘Jatil Kecil’ teasing each other before performing. They are super cute! This dance originally performed by a handsome, youthful teenage boys wearing a colourful costumes. But today, young female dancers usually played the role and this will be the 2nd performances of the day.




Them, ‘Young Jatil ‘ while performing the ‘Jaran Kepang’ dance which is similar to ‘Kuda Lumping’ or ‘Kuda Kepang’, horses made of weaved bamboo. Formerly, these horse-riders were played by men called Gembak.



The third performances is definitely the ‘Young Warok’ or ‘Warok Kecil’. A Warok is actually an honorary title of local hero or strongman of the village that possessed both exceptional spiritual and physical strength. The dance itself is demonstration of physical strength of the dancers. That’s the reason why you can see a lots of stunt during their performance.


The fourth performances are the ‘Young Ganong’. Love this one. They are like teasing each other, making jokes and even playing around with the crowds. Basically, it’s just like a 2 way communication and interaction with the crowds. Kudos to the performers! Check out the lil’ one.



The final performance is the main attraction of the show where it is performed by all the Reog dancers. We spent around 1 1/2 hours there under a hot direct sun. That’s the price that we have to pay. It’s free. Who doesn’t love free stuff. So Malaysian! Hahaha.


The official merchandise.

In overall, i enjoyed the whole show. Oh ya, the total number of Reog team is between 20 to 40 members together with the musician. If you’re in Surabaya, don’t miss a chance to watch Reog at Balai Pemuda (Youth Hall) every Sunday at 8.30am.

We will continue our journey on Part 6 – Surabaya City.

Simply me,
Zara AB
The Province of Chroma