Consisting of “theatrical” elements is a Southeast Asian dance form known as Jikey. This “traditional” dance is said to have originated from Malaysia, and is also popularly known as Yike in Cambodia and Likay in Thailand. In Kedah and Perlis, Jikey, a traditional Malay dance drama, is extremely popular. The dance drama is particularly popular in the southern provinces of Satun and Phuket and is referred to as Yike in Cambodia and Likay in Thailand. Apparently, this dance also comprises improvised dialogues and music. Furthermore, the music used in this dance style combines both, the use of musical instruments as well as singing i.e. vocals. In addition, the characters that are commonly used in this dance include the comedians, a king, and warriors.
a. History/origin of the Jikey:
Apparently, this form of dancing is said to have developed in Malaysia within the “Malay” community from the singing of the “Zikr”. Furthermore, it was during the 19th century that this dance style was eventually developed into a “theatrical” form of dancing.
b. Costumes used in the Jikey:
The costume used in this dance style are basically traditional Malay and they vary according to the gender. They are as follows:
1. For males:
The attire worn includes a baju melayu, a tunic generally worn over trousers, trousers, a sarong known as “sampan” wrapped around the waist. In addition, a songkok traditional cap may also be worn.
2. For females:
The attire worn includes baju kurung, a knee length blouse, a long skirt, and a headscarf.
c. Music involved in the Jikey:
The musical instruments generally used in this dance style include a rebana i.e. a type of tambourine, a knobbed gong, five or more pairs of cerek, a pair of kesi, and an oboe. However, the orchestra mainly used for this dance includes a violin, 3 rebanas, and 2 cereks.
Jikey’s music combines singing and instrumental music. The main characters in the play are a king, a comedian, and a group of warriors. A leitmotif is used because various musical elements are associated with different characters in the play.
d. Training availability and technique involved in the Jikey:
In terms of technique, this dance involves the use of improvised dialogues along with music and dance with a focus on slapstick humor, local legends made up the majority of the repertoire. Furthermore, the performers in this dance generally represent three major characters namely a king, warriors, and comedians. Other Malay performing arts, such as Mak Yong, Hadrah, Bangsawan, and Mek Mulung, have also had a significant influence on the Jikey performance. As for training centers/schools, there are none available around the world since this “traditional” dance is mainly performed in Malaysia.
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