The Saman dance is part of the cultural heritage of the Gayo people from the Gayo Lues sub-district in the Aceh province in Sumatra. In November 24, 2011, UNESCO officially recognized Aceh’s traditional Saman dance as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and in need of UNESCO’s urgent protection. The ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) named the Saman dance as the best ASEAN cultural preservation effort at the 25th ASEANTA Awards for Excellence 2012.
“The Saman is performed to celebrate national and religious holidays, cementing relationships between village groups who invite each other for performances. Boys and young men perform the Saman sitting on their heels or kneeling in tight rows. Each wears a black costume embroidered with colourful Gayo motifs symbolizing nature and noble values. The leader sits in the middle of the row and leads the singing of verses, mostly in the Gayo language. These offer guidance and can be religious, romantic or humorous in tone. Dancers clap their hands, slap their chests, thighs and the ground, click their fingers, and sway and twist their bodies and heads in time with the shifting rhythm – in unison or alternating with the moves of opposing dancers. These movements symbolize the daily lives of the Gayo people and their natural environment.
The Sanggar Rempelis Mude Saman Dance Group was established in 1988 under the name “Studio Rempelis Mude” by the city government in Blang Kejeren. It has been directly sponsored and managed by the government of the Gayo Lues sub-district since 2002.
This dance group has had a healthy turnover of dancers since its establishment, ensuring the regeneration of this heritage. It has received numerous awards and performed at several national and international events, such as the opening of the 1992 World EXPO in Seville, Spain, the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia, and the opening of the 2012 Indonesian Festival in Melbourne, Australia.