The image of legong-sumtuosly costumed girl dancers crowned with frangiapanis-is the face of Balinese culture. Yet it is only one of twenty dance/drama genres and prominent in only some centers. Legong, a secular court dance, has often been (and still is) in danger of extinction. Balinese are now less interested in legong than ever before and musicians prefer to play other kinds of music.
Since the 1930s, legong has been presented at tourist centers and by ensembles touring overseas. Western expatriates have founded legong groups and generally brokered the relation between Balines and foreigners. Foreign scholars have studied, recorded, and filmed Balinese performers. Balinese scholars take higher digress abroad and co-author books on Balinese dance with Westerners. Balinese performers teach across the world, whie United States and Japanese student dancers in Bali employ teachers at rates of pay locals cannot match. Legong groups tour Bali from the US and Japan. Non-Balinese influence what aspects of Balinese culture are promoted and sustained. The impetus for the current (modest and localised) revival of legong seems to come mostly from non-Balinese.
Despite all this, legong has retained its autonomy and integrity as an emblematic Balinese dance form, and for some surprising reasons.