Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bali: So You Think You Can Dance?

After our jaunt around the rice paddies and pork paradise of Ubud, we stopped off at the Pura Saraswati to catch a dance performance in front of the temple, adjacent to the lotus ponds:


The performance we saw was by the Cenik Wayah children's gamelan and dance group, and was comprised of snippets from a number of different types of Balinese dance, which was pretty cool. Below are photos and brief descriptions of each of the dances, but check out the video at the end for the full effect!


I love how intricate the gamelan instruments are:


First, the Legong trance dance, which, according to the dance company's brochure, is "a sacred dance performed only in a temple by very young girls."  This is a version of the dance in which the two women are drawn into a trance.  I think that explains why the first 3 or 4 minutes of the dance were performed by the women with their eyes closed... pretty impressive!  After they opened their eyes, half of the performance consisted of coordinated, wide-eyed eye movements:


I'm sad that I only got a blurry shot of this kid below, because his dance was surprisingly good despite his fat-guy-in-a-little-coat/I-can't-put-my-arms-down outfit.  I believe his was the Baris dance, which is "the first dance taught to young boys," and "depicts a warrior and the full range of emotions he might experience before going into battle: courage, fear, excitement, doubt, pride, humility.":


The next group of photos are of the Fisherman Dance.  At first I didn't see it, but eventually it's pretty clear when the women paddle a canoe while the man reels in fishing nets and pulls out the recently caught fish (you can see it in action in the video):


Next, the Kebyar Duduk.  "The word 'kebyar' means a sudden flare or flash, e.g. the striking of a match."  This was a pretty fierce dance, with lots of dramatic movement, skirt- and fan-twirling, and intense facial expressions:


I think this might be the "Nyamar" dance, as described in the pamphlet... a love story?  In any case, just look at those costumes... awesome:


This guy, part of the gamelan accompaniment, was loving life throughout the performance... he really looked like he was having fun while jamming out on the drum:


The other gamelan musicians did some seriously hard-core playing (check it out in the video).  The guidebook said something amusing about the Balinese style of gamelan which I think rings true: "...the Balinese gamelan is very different from the more gentle, reserved and formal form you'll hear in Java.  Balinese gamelan often sounds like everyone is going for it full pelt."  It is pretty intense!


The final dance was the Barong dance.  The Barong, according to the pamphlet, embodies all that is positive and good and symbolizes the tiger as king of the forest.  I really liked the barong- the dancers really brought the costume to life, giving it real animal qualities:



The final bow:


The barong dancer's hands clapping from within:


And the video!  Worth a watch:


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