Ronggeng is one of the dance arts that was born and developed in Tatar Pasundan, or precisely in Pangandaran, West Java. In each performance, we can see several couples exchanging poetic verses while dancing to the accompaniment of fiddle music, violin, or gongs.
From a linguistic point of view, this Ronggeng comes from the word renggana which means idolized woman, in Sanskrit. It is not known for sure how the origin of this Ronggeng art developed in Pangandaran so that it can survive as it is today.
However, as written by Gilang Campaka through his thesis entitled 'Song Kudup Turi in Ronggeng Gunung art in South Ciamis', it is estimated that this art has existed since the 7th century, during the reign of the Galuh Kingdom. The dance acts as an entertainer for visiting royal guests.
However, there is another version that reveals. according to Ria Andayani in her book, 'Ronggeng Gunung: Exploring Traditional Art for Tourism Development and Modern Art in Ciamis Regency', that this dance was created by Raden Sawung Galing who was reinforcements from Galuh to save Pananjung who later became king.
When in power, he made a dance as an official means of entertainment called Ronggeng Gunung. The selection of dancers is also quite strict, they must not only be but must be able to dance and be respected.
Ronggeng Mountain and Revenge Mission
It is also said that in dispar.ciamiskab.go.id records there are at least four versions that underlie the birth of Ronggeng Gunung art, but the most popular is the story of Anggalarang and Dewi Siti Samboja, his wife.
When Anggalarang was about to establish a kingdom in the Pananjung area (now the Pananjung Nature Reserve), his father—Prabu Haur Kuning from the Galuh Kingdom, warned that the area was dangerous because it was close to the pirate base.
However, Anggalarang persisted. Shortly after the kingdom was established, Prabu Haur Kuning's worries occurred. A group of pirates led by Kalasamudra attacked the Pananjung Kingdom. In an unequal battle, Anggalarang was killed.
Meanwhile, his wife managed to escape. On the run—along with some of her followers, Dewi Siti Samboja disguised herself as Ronggeng Gunung and changed her name to Dewi Rengganis. They move from one place to another. Every time she appears, Dewi Rengganis always sings kawih about loss and heartache, remembering her husband who died at the hands of pirates.
In disguise, Dewi Rengganis hunts Kalasamudra. At a performance in front of Kalasamudra, the retinue of Ronggeng Gunung danced while covering their faces with a cloth while luring their prey to join and drift away in the dance. When Kalasamudra began to be tempted and joined the dance into the center of the circle, he was caught off guard. Dewi Rengganis stabbed him with a knife. Kalasamudra died lying down. Her husband's death was avenged.
This art was also recorded during the colonial period by Europeans, including Governor-General Stamford Thomas Raffles in his book 'The History of Java'. He wrote that Ronggeng was a traveling show performed by women from the mountains. The performances were usually performed in public spaces, even in the residences of nobles and colonial rulers.
In the Ronggeng Gunung performance, women have many roles, such as dancers as well as singers. A Ronggeng also acts as the leader of some ritual events involving this performance.
Development of Ronggeng Pangandaran
Euis Thresnawaty from the Center for the Preservation of Cultural Values (BPNB) in West Java in 'Raspi, Sang Maestro Ronggeng Gunung' (Journal of Panjalu Vol.8 No 2 2016) wrote that to become a ronggeng there is no age limit.
It is not easy for every woman to become a ronggeng, because it has a strict selection. But the condition of being beautiful is no longer an important requirement to be ronggeng as it was in the past.
These conditions have made ronggeng's profession so rare until now. The main difficulty, according to Euis, is the unique vocal skills.
"Young women in Ciulu, for example, prefer to be dangdut singers or single organ singers rather than being ronggeng," she wrote. "They don't have the patience to get that kind of singing ability."
The art of Ronggeng Gunung which previously became a ritual for agricultural fertility then developed over time. Nina Herlina Lubis and Invite Ahmad Darsa from Padjadjaran University wrote that developments were then held.
At first Ronggeng Gunung was used in rituals, especially agricultural fertility, in its development it became a performing art as post-farming entertainment. When the harvest is over, Ronggeng Gunung is held in the evening as a sign of gratitude.
According to Nina and Law through 'The Development of Ronggeng as a Traditional Art in Pangandaran Regency', it was revealed that Ronggeng Gunung developed into Ronggeng Amen (also known as Ronggeng Kidul). The presence of Ronggeng Amen is more popular among the Pangandaran community today.
This popularity is due to the audience being able to dance with ronggeng and give money. The performance can be observed more lively because it is accompanied by kliningan gamelan and various more modern songs.
Ronggeng Amen usually consists of five to seven ronggeng, and a dozen musicians. The Ronggeng Amen dancer also does not have a dual role as a singer.
In terms of movement, Ronggeng Amen also seemed Freer to express and be inclusive to the audience. The next audience can take part in the dance if they are wrapped in a sampur (shawl) from the ronggeng, and are free to dance without any movement standards.
Seeing the long history of Ronggeng Gunung and Ronggeng Amen is a typical cultural heritage of Pangandaran. The local government is also trying to guide various Ronggeng art groups so that they are more accepted by the community today./RS