Jathilan is traditional Javanese trance dance that exists on the verge of ritual and entertainment: performers transition from their normal waking consciousness into oblivion to be awaken again only once the dance is already over. Their personalities are believed to be displaced by the ones of the spirits who live in the invisible realm side-by-side with the humans. Jathilan is all about crossing the boundaries: between mundane and supernatural, socially acceptable and chaotic animal-like behavior, artistic expression and archaic mysterial practice. What starts in an orderly manner with a well-synchronized dance routine ends with the series of dramatic exorcisms when the trance master, pawang and his assistants make the spirits leave the dancers’ bodies. Jathilan is a temporary breach into another reality – unseen mystical world which, in case of Java, still has not been displaced by the forces of modernity.
Illustrated article on Jathilan was published in Discovery Magazine Russia #2 2015.