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Home » Upbeat Manado » Lenso Dance: The attractive Handkerchief Dance of Minahasa

Lenso Dance: The attractive Handkerchief Dance of Minahasa

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Just as any other ethnic group in Indonesia, the Minahasa region of North Sulawesi are a people blessed with abundant unique traditional cultural features. Aside from the Maengket Dance there is also another that is equally fascinating: The Lenso Dance. Sharing similar characteristics with the Minahasa, the dance is also found in Ambon and other parts of Maluku Province.


The world Lenso in Minahasa , as in most of East Indonesia means handkerchief which is its main focus, so  simply translated it means the Handkerchief Dance. This is a social dance, recognized as a means for young men and women to meet and express themselves. Usually the dance takes place during folk celebrations and festivities such as wedding balls, cloves harvests, New Year celebrations, and many others where young people gather.


There are no strict rules on the number of performers, however there are usually 6 to 10 female dancers. Dancers wear distinct colorful costumes of the Minahasa region which is a long dress with long sleeves top. To add to the girls’ beauty, the hair of the dancers is shaped into a beautiful bun with red and white roses accessories added. The overall appearance of the dancers with the addition of the handkerchief radiates the gracefulness of the Lenso Dance.


Its choreography is simple and graceful, making it special since it can be performed by anyone. Accompanying the dance is distinct Minahasan music which consists of tambur minahasa (percussion), suling (bamboo flute), kolintang (a traditional Minahasa wooden key-board), tetengkoren, and momongan. The ensemble plays dynamic music which accompanies the steps in the choreography.


The girls hold handkerchiefs in each hand. The colors of the handkerchiefs are red and white, symbolizing love and affection. With the dance, the handkerchiefs sway with the movement of the dancers. They gracefully move their body standing stepping from left to right and then slightly lowering to a kneeling position while their hands sway from left to right.


As the dance progresses, one by one young men join the dancers in the performance. When a dancer gives the handkerchief to one of the boys, this indicates that his love for her is accepted. On the contrary, if the dancer refuses to give away the handkerchief this means that she rejects him. This part of the dance is what makes it special, since it acts as an occasion for young people to express their affection through dance with the intention to find their perfect love.

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Lenso Dance: The attractive Handkerchief Dance of Minahasa

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