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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 9

    Wednesday, September 2, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    A yummy salad at Rio Helmi Gallery and Cafe in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A yummy salad at Rio Helmi Gallery and Cafe in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The performance space for a Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    The performance space for a Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    This evening, I headed over to Pura Desa around 6:30 pm, but not much was going on at that time. The seats in front of the stage at the bale banjar next door were mostly empty, so I walked up Jalon Suweta to look for something to eat, hopefully cheap. In between all of the expensive restaurants, I noticed a small cafe and photo gallery called the Rio Helmi Gallery and Cafe, where I chomped down on a big, delicious salad. After dinner, I checked out the gallery, which boasted a bunch of huge, mounted photos of everyday Balinese life and Hindu temple ceremonies– including trance possession. Shot by a Bali native and professional photo bug who’s been at it for decades, it all looked very interesting, powerful and beautiful.

    A dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A Baris dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Baris dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Back at the stage, most of the chairs were still empty, save for a few small clusters of people. After a while, a girl from England asked me if I knew anything about tonight’s performance. I told her all of the info I gleaned from the giant poster out front, which was written in Bahasa Indonesia. I also told her that since no instruments or equipment had been set up yet, the show might be happening over inside the Pura Desa temple. As we chatted for a few minutes, I learned that she is 15 months into a two-year around-the-world trip.

    Welcome to Koki at Mumbul, where we serve you tiny portions for inflated prices. Green curry. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Welcome to Koki at Mumbul, where we serve you tiny portions for inflated prices. Green curry. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A Telek dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Telek dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    An hour later at 7:00 pm, a Balinese man walked up and announced to the clusters of people who were waiting that tonight’s show was being performed inisde Pura Desa, just like I thought, but we’d have to wear traditional Balinese attire to get inside. So, I ran back to my room, slapped a sarong around my waist and got Ketut’s husband Made to help me put on my udeng (traditional Balinese headband), as it had come unfurled, and I couldn’t recall how to fold it up and tie it. As I walked up to the entrance to Pura Desa, the guard at the front said no more foreign visitors were allowed to enter because there were already too many people inside. Dang! So, I made all of that effort to get dressed up for nothing.

    A topeng dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A topeng dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A Sisya dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Sisya dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    I just spent the rest of the evening shooting photos of the performance of the the Calonarang story from outside the wall, where I had to jockey for space with a bunch of other Balinese and foreigners. Some of the dances I recognized included the Sisya, Telek, Jauk, Baris and several others I didn’t know the names of. There was also an extended Bondres comedy bit that lasted well over 90 minutes, featuring a man dressed up as a woman and another made up as a really old snaggle tooth lady. The latter performer was a really amazing dancer and comedian, and together with the former, had the audience in stitches the whole time.

    A Bondres comedy performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Bondres comedy performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A Bondres comedy performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Bondres comedy performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The dramatic ender came courtesy of Rangda, the personification of evil, as he paced back and forth menacingly in the performance space. After a short while, Rangda was led out of the temple grounds as dozens of white-garbed Balinese males formed a procession behind him and walked a kilometer west on Jalon Raya Ubud, where a quiet and somber ritual was conducted at a small, elevated shrine on a side lane at the top of a hill. As everyone sat on the ground to stay lower than Rangda, I walked far away around the perimeter to get a shot of him from the front. I was almost there when the pecalang (security guards) motioned for me to sit down. Dang! I knew that was going to happen.

    A Baris dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Baris dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    After I sat, I squat-walked the rest of the way and captured the most grainy snap of Rangda possible as he grunted and waved around his arms, and a few old ladies sang songs of worship. I was kind of surprised Rangda didn’t do anything crazy, like maybe scream his head off or suddenly literally yank his head off during the middle of an intense trance state, which I’ve seen happen before. After a few more minutes, everyone stood and walked behind Rangda back up the street past Pura Desa to the corner of Jalon Raya Ubud and Jalon Suweta. Everyone–including the remaining womenfolk from inside Pura Desa–sat in a huge cluster on the street as Rangda again held court and a few ladies near him sang.

    A dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A dance performance as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Rangda stalks the crowd as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Rangda stalks the crowd as part of the Calonarang drama at Pura Desa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    At one point, a foreign woman walked by on the sidewalk. I wondered why they allowed her to do so, but made me sit down? Maybe because I did it at a temple shrine. A little bit later, Rangda and his followers walked back into Pura Desa and entered the inner sections of the temple, where he most likely had to interact with the Barong to maintain the balance of good and evil that is essential to the Balinese Hindu religion. Finally, at 2:30 am, I headed off back to my room, where I could barely keep my eyelids open as I climbed into bed.

    Rangda holds court at a small shrine in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Rangda holds court at a small shrine in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Rangda holds court at the intersection of Jalon Raya Ubud and Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Rangda holds court at the intersection of Jalon Raya Ubud and Jalon Suweta in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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