• Home
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Print
  • Art
  • Photos
  • Live
  • Features
  • About
  • Sale
  • Instagram
  •  

    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 10

    Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    Fried tofu, vegetables and rice at Pulu Sari Warung in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Fried tofu, vegetables and rice at Pulu Sari Warung in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Around 6:30 pm, I walked over to the intersection of Jalon Raya Ubud and Jalon Suweta to find my old buddy, the ticket seller Nur Astika, who also happens to be a tailor. I showed her a t-shirt I bought in Bukittinggi, Sumatra with three-quarter length sleeves that I wanted her to hem down to short sleeves. I also bought from her a ticket to the Legong Trance and Paradise Dance show by Sekehe Gong Panca Artha across the street at Ubud Palace. As this was at least the fourth or fifth time I’d seen it, I guess you might say it’s one of my favorite shows in Ubud. By 6:45 pm, I got the ticket torn off of my program and entered the courtyard of Ubud Palace. The front row of plastic chairs was already full, but that was okay, because there were still front row seats on both sides of the performance space. Ubud is so incredibly crowded these days that you have to arrive over an hour before showtime if you want to get front row seats.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong Trance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    As the place filled up, I noticed a few people staring at me because I was wearing an udeng (traditional Balinese headband); one guy even had his big-ass lens trained right on me. So, I just took it off to avoid unwanted attention. A Chinese lady with a little kid asked if the seat next to me was open. Unfortunately, I said yes, because as she plopped down into it, her kid started waving around a fan and almost hit me in the face with it a couple of times. Needless to say, the kid went on to talk and carry on throughout the performance. Luckily, the mom handed off the little shit to dad, who was sitting on the ground in front of them, where it remained intermittently for at least some of the show.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Jauk at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Jauk at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Lencana Agung Ubud at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Lencana Agung Ubud at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Lencana Agung Ubud at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Lencana Agung Ubud at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    I noticed that Sekehe Gong Panca Artha had recruited two new, younger dancers for the opening act, the Legong Trance, which was a little more lithe and delicate than their presentation of Legong Lasem. After a priest blessed the two Legongs’ crowns with holy water and put them into a trance state, they told a story in dance about how the Gods give blessings and mercy to humankind for peace and prosperity on this troubled Earth. This jaw-dropping, moving performance is the apex of ritual theater. Jauk was a solo dance in which a demon cavorted through the jungle, joking with insects, admiring the scenery, and so on. The Lencana Agung Ubud was a full-blown ensemble piece full of twirling umbrellas (and even an official Ubud village logo) that celebrated the spiritual and peaceful way of life of the locals in Ubud.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Kebyar Trompong at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Kebyar Trompong at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Kebyar Trompong featured the long trompong instrument, which was expertly played by a woman who danced at the same time. Her facial expressions, which ranged from a deer-caught-in-the-headlights stare one second to a flirtatious smile the next, perfectly matched the explosive gamelan gong kebyar music, which developed on Bali in the 1930s. The set finished in grand fashion with The Ballet of Bimanlu, which told the tale of prince Bimaniu and all of the adventures he experienced battling various evil forces on his journey to win the heart of princess Situ Sunari.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Post-show, I took a stroll down Jalon Monkey Forest to a warung called Maha, where I chomped on a decent veggie burger and French fries at one of those people-watching tables that is right next to the sidewalk, facing out. The same building was previously occupied by a cheaper, more basic cafe called Warung Dayu’s that I used to eat at a lot on my previous two visits to Ubud in 2010 and 2012. I was sorry to see it was gone, as it offered reasonably priced grub and a friendly staff.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Ballet of Bimanlu at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Maha’s staff is friendly, too, but it’s just not the same. Most of the basic warungs in Ubud are being replaced one by one by more fancy versions of the same, if not outright upscale restaurants, boutiques, shops, etc. I just read an article called “Foreigners in Ubud – A Changing Landscape” (part one and part two) that perfectly sums up what has been happening to Ubud in recent years. It really expresses the mixed feelings I have about this place better than I could with a million words in a million years. I strongly suggest that you read it.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *