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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 4

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    A torn flyer on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A torn flyer on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A veggie burger at Gedong Sisi in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A veggie burger at Gedong Sisi in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    An oxidized electrical box on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    An oxidized electrical box on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Ultra bright green palm trees and rice fields on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Ultra bright green palm trees and rice fields on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Today, I took a long stroll up Jalon Suweta three or so kilometers north of Ubud. Ambling past picturesque family temple gates, weathered walls and torn flyer-infested poles, eventually I made it out to the ultra vivid greenery of the rice fields and small swaths of jungle bearing some of those oversized palm leaves that the tropics are so famous for. At one point, a young foreign couple who were out on a hike asked me if they were heading the correct way back to Ubud. A few minutes later, another separate guy asked me the exact same thing, which was an odd coincidence.

    A statue of a Legong dancer in front of a family compound gate on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A statue of a Legong dancer in front of a family compound gate on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A battered garage door on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A battered garage door on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Ultra bright green palm trees on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Ultra bright green palm trees on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A women's gamelan practices at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A women’s gamelan practices at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Back down in town, a woman’s gamelan put on an informal concert / practice session in front of the public in the courtyard at Ubud Palace. It was so nice to bask for a while within the regal tones and stately melodies that wafted out into the early evening air. Around 7:00 pm, I climbed aboard a rickety old bus with three other foreigners bound for Balerung in Peliatan for a show by Tirta Sari, an ensemble formed in 1978 by legendary Balinese dancer and choreographer Anak Agung Gede Mandera. I was excited, because I’ve wanted to see them ever since my first trip to Bali back in 2010.

    A women's gamelan practices at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A women’s gamelan practices at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A women's gamelan practices at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A women’s gamelan practices at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A thrashed flyer on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A thrashed flyer on Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The Tirta Sari gamelan performs at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    The Tirta Sari gamelan performs at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    The driver dropped us off in a back lane a couple of blocks away, and instructed us to walk the rest of the way around the corner, I guess because the lane was too narrow for the bus to negotiate. As I walked into the Balerung, I was dismayed to find a huge crowd of 50 people already occupying the first seven or eight rows. Dang! So, I was forced to sit way off to the right side up on a raised floor where I could be closer to the stage and get some halfway decent shots. Opening with a stately medium tempo instrumental called Sekar Gendot, the gamelan went on to propel the dancers of Pendet, an elegant dance which welcomed the audience to the venue with showers of flowers sprinkled onto their heads.

    Tirta Sari performs the Puspa Mekar or Pendet dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Puspa Mekar or Pendet dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Tirta Sari performs the Legong Lasem dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Legong Lasem dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Tirta Sari performs the Legong Lasem dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Legong Lasem dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Tirta Sari performs the Kebyar Trompong dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Kebyar Trompong dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Next, the orchestra launched into the well-worn strains of Legong Lasem, in which three young female dancers interpreted the story of a royal love triangle. The village of Peiatan is well-known as ground zero for world class performances of Legong repertoire. Fourth in line was the Kebyar Trompong, created in the 1920s by another legendary Balinese performer named Mario. In this unique dance, which was mostly performed sitting, the dancer displayed a high degree of skill with his facial expressions, body movements and playing of the tromping instrument–all at the same time!

    Tirta Sari performs the Legong Jobog dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Legong Jobog dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Tirta Sari performs the Barong Taru Pramana dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Barong Taru Pramana dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Tirta Sari performs the Barong Taru Pramana dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Barong Taru Pramana dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Tirta Sari performs the Barong Taru Pramana dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Barong Taru Pramana dance at Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Next up was the Legong Jebog, another beautiful Legong variation which told the story of two brother kings who got turned into monkeys! The final performance, Barong Taru Pramana, unveiled a slice of the life of Ciwa, an entity who was merely in charge of Swarga Loka (Heaven). No big deal! Ciwa fell ill, sending his wife, Dewi Ulma, on a long journey to find a remedy from a rare, medicinal plant. If you ever find yourself in Ubud, Bali, I highly recommend that you bear witness to a performance by Tirta Sari, one of the finest and most respected gamelan ensembles on the whole island of Bali.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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