Bidayuh Dance

Dances of the Bidayuh People During Gawai Dayak

Throughout human history, ritual dance has been used in worship. Messages are derived through the symbolic gestures performed with the various movements of the different parts of the body. Ritual dance is common to the civilization of all people at all times, and they are viewed as primarily functional and generally devoid of artistry. Ritual dance is performed because through these dances, they could communicate ideas and messages that cannot be said in ordinary words. 

In the past, the Bidayuh believed in spirit and the world being populated by both good and evil spirits . According to the traditional Bidayuh beliefs, these spirits are real and if they are disturbed, they can do a lot of harm to the villagers and the environment. They believed that the rhythmic movements of the body, and while in a state of trance, they could possess an excellent medium through which they could get in contact with the good spirit.

The lively Rajang Be'uh dance of the Bidayuh simulates the flight of eagles.

Rajang Be’uh (Eagle Dance)

This dance is usually performed after the harvest season as a form of entertainment for guests of the longhouse. The movements of the dancers with outstretched hands imitate the movements of the eagles as they flap their wings in flight.

Rejang beuh in Biatah dialect or langiin Bukar-Sadung or tigal bitagi or sigar bouh in Bau-Jagoi is usually performed by two male dancers. The dance originated when a Bidayuh legendary hero, Madu Sawan was ordered by the King of the Pleiades to fight with the legendary bird of the sky known as Tingkilang Ramang(The Eagle Spirit). This was to ascertain who has the right to take the King’s daughter, Dara Buda for a wife.

Tingkilang Ramang were both accomplished dancers. They started to dance from each end of the verandah, moving gracefully towards each other in various styles and motions, following the slow and steady beating and rhythm of the gongs and drums. Each time when they meet, they swoop down in a quick motion as if they are attacking each other in a fight. During each of these moving encounters, the invisible poisonous snakes and insects will come out from Madu Sawan?s pockets and attack Tingkilang Ramang until he fell down unconscious. Thus, in the duel, Tingkilang Ramang lost and Madu Sawan was declared the rightful husband of Dara Buda.

Tolak Bala

Before the harvesting season, the community performed this dance to ask for blessing for a good harvest and to protect the community from evil spirits.


Performed during the harvest festivals to welcome the souls of padi from the hut and paddy stubble in the padi fields to their respective homes. The dance is also performed to welcome distinguished visitors to the village. The musical instruments used in the dance are gongs, drums and the wooden instrument, gulintang.

Langi Julang

Langi Julang is a ritual dance performed at the closing of the harvest festival. The main purpose of the dance is to give thanks to God for bestowing good health and rich harvest. At the same time, it is performed to appease the unfriendly spirits so that they do not harm or disturb the village and the villagers. The dance is also to call back the stray souls of people and padi to return from the padi fields.
In the olden days, Langi Julang is also performed during a ceremony when a new chief is installed. This is to give thanks to God and to give him the blessing so that he will do his job well for the benefit of his people. The dance is also performed to welcome distinguished guests to the village.