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    Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 8

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The sky was overcast today, so I had some spaghetti at Taman Curry and hung out with Mr. Photoshop and people watched all afternoon. Since I’ve been trying to see different troupes than I did last trip (at least most of the time), I bought a ticket to Gamelan Nritta Dewi at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod on Monkey Forest Road next to the sports field. (Bale banjar means town meeting hall.) The crowd of 25 or 30 people was pretty big for this slightly out-of-the-way venue. I got there 30 minutes early, before everyone else, and when I first went to sit down, I noticed two chairs in the center front row laying flat on the floor. After a bunch of people filtered in, no one sat there, so I pulled up one of the chairs and set up my iPod on it to record a track.

    Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Gamelan Nritta Dewi at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    As it turned out, the chairs were reserved by two middle age French speaking tourists, who arrived from their world class resort and spa freshly pampered and polished. So, I had to move my stuff for them. Then they sat there before the show started, droning away non-stop in their dull monotone voices. “They’re going to talk all the way through the performance,” I thought. Sure enough, as soon as the first piece quietly began, they kept right on a-talkin’ and continued to do so sporadically throughout the whole show.

    Gamelan Nritta Dewi performs the Dara Dewi dance at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Gamelan Nritta Dewi performs the Legong Kraton dance at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Gamelan Nritta Dewi is of recent vintage, having just formed in 2004, and the performance, oddly called Trans Culture even though it’s all Balinese, kicked off with an instrumental piece called Sekar Gendot, followed by the first dance, the Dara Dewi, an offering to the Gods in which the dancers’ very slow and graceful movements and beautiful smiles lulled this viewer into a hypnotic state. Then the mood changed 180 degrees with the the Legong Kraton, a lively classical dance drama originally performed for royal families in palace courtyards. The first of the three Legongs (the Condong) to appear onstage tonight experienced a wardrobe malfunction as one of the flower stalks on her headdress, supported by a wire, slowly drooped down in front of her forehead. A true pro, she nonchalantly pushed it back up a few moments later during a movement in which she turned away from the audience.

    Gamelan Nritta Dewi performs the Kebyar Gandrung dance at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Gamelan Nritta Dewi performs the Baris dance at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Next came the Kebyar Gandrung, “a reflection of the emotional spirit of a young child.” The costume and movements in this dance are very similar to the Taruna Jaya. Following that was the good old Baris dance, which dynamically displayed the heroism and bravery of the Balinese warrior. An old man hobbled out on stage next for the Topeng Tua, followed by the final piece, which was some sort of topeng (mask) dance that was not listed in the program. It was performed by one woman in a very basic costume, which consisted solely of a sarong, scarf and a simple white mask. Her slow, graceful moves and contortions, and the sparse, moody music imbued this dance with a very contemporary feel.

    Gamelan Nritta Dewi performs a topeng dance at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    All told, tonight’s performance by Gamelan Nritta Dewi was greater than Frosted Flakes. As I walked out in front of the venue, I noticed a bunch of bamboo structures piled up everywhere. I asked an old man if they were having some kind of ceremony, and sure enough, he told me one was coming up on July 18. Soon after I arrived on Bali, I had asked around if there were any upcoming cremation ceremonies, and was told some pretty big ones are scheduled in Ubud on July 28. I’m really excited about that, as I’ve been waiting to see one of those for a long time.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

    2 responses to “Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 8”

    1. Zach O. says:

      Me and my fiancé planned to move to france but, they are becoming less respectable to to people that are are not them. So talking during the show isn’t a surprise to me. It’s a shame though, that would have been a nice place to reside at.

    2. Grant Brittain says:

      Cremation ceremonies on my birthday, auspicious.

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