Historically dance is rooted in the general influx of Indian culture from the 7th to the 10th centuries, from whence came the epic poems of the ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’, Sanskrit literature, architecture and religion.
Later, more indigenous elements from the Majapahit dynasty, the spread of Islam in the 15th century, and the Mataram dynasty of the 17th century influenced the development of dance styles.
After the arrival of the Dutch the royal courts had no political power, so their energies were devoted to refining court etiquette and developing the arts.
Today dance is a feature of everyday life, a part of all ceremonies and festivals celebrating occasions of importance to the community, in villages, towns and urban centres.
Some dance genres originated in the courts of Surakarta and Yogyakarta and were taken up by the general public; others started life as dances performed by professional dancers, which were relatively free and improvisatory and which have been stylised into dance genres of their own.