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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 32

    Friday, September 25, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    Half of a temporary Balinese split gate on Jalan Raya Ubud in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Half of a temporary Balinese split gate on Jalan Raya Ubud in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A distressed wall on Jalan Raya Ubud in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A distressed wall on Jalan Raya Ubud in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    For the first time in my life, I ate three small lunches today, which really equaled only one big lunch. After the first lunch, which consisted of the usual small serving of tofu, mushrooms and rice at Arimas Warung, I still felt hungry. So, I stopped by Gedong Sisi for a serving of spicy green beans and other vegetables that turned out to be really tiny. (It also had a hair in it. Ew! But, at least I saw it and removed it before I took a bite.) Everything ensconced in my stomach so far still didn’t cut the mustard of hunger, so I stopped by Tamarilo and ordered a Mission burrito, which was of a pretty decent size. Finally! I felt full.

    Pura Penataran Pande all dolled up for a temple ceremony in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Pura Penataran Pande all dolled up for a temple ceremony in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Torn flyer remnants in a back lane in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Torn flyer remnants in a back lane in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    In between there somewhere, I bought a ticket from Nur Astika to see Tirta Sari at the Balerung over in Peliatan. (Tirta Sari was formed in 1978 by legendary Balinese dancer and choreographer Anak Agung Gede Mandera of Gunung Sari, the first Balinese gamelan that traveled overseas, way back in 1931!) I had seen this same exact show by Tirta Sari a couple of weeks before, but from the right hand side of the stage. I wanted to see it again front and center so I could capture better photos and videos. Seeing as how it was already 5:30 pm, I walked on over there in an attempt to get a front row seat.

    A local strikes a pose at the Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    A local strikes a pose at the Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

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

    Arriving at the Balerung at 6:00 pm, I was stoked to capture some video footage of the various ornate gates and temples in and around the complex. When I entered the performance hall, however, I was dismayed–but not really surprised–that the first three rows had been reserved by Japanese visitors. When I asked the ticket taker out front about how people reserve seats at the Balerung so maybe I could next time, he responded with a blank stare. When I asked him if he spoke English, he said a little.

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

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

    So, with 90 minutes to kill and / or give birth to, I fumed for a few minutes until I realized that it would be much more fun to saunter around the beautiful Balerung and absorb all of the lovely vintage framed photos of Balinese dancers from decades past. Many of them were taken in the 1950s and published in the book Dancers of Bali (also known as Dancing Out of Bali), an account by a British man named John Coast who organized the second ever international tour of a Balinese gamelan ensemble in Europe and North America in the early 1950s. When I was finished checking out the pics, I claimed a spot on a raised floor on the right side of the stage before the inevitable onslaught of Japanese people ensued.

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

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

    The funny thing was no one ever ended up claiming the two seats on the far right of the front row. Also, four Japanese guys brandishing a serious video camera, tripod, cables and other gear were considering setting up right in front of me, on the side of the stage, fully blocking my view. I asked them not to, and motioned for them to set up their tripod on the floor in front of the right side of the stage. One of them said something to me, but I couldn’t make out what. Then, surprisingly, they disappeared to the back somewhere, only to reappear briefly one time later in the performance.

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

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

    Opening with a stately medium tempo instrumental called Sekar Gendot, the gamelan went on to propel the dancers of Puspa Mekar, an elegant dance which welcomed the audience to the venue with showers of flowers sprinkled onto their heads. 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 Peliatan 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 Barong Taru Pramana dance at the Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Tirta Sari performs the Barong Taru Pramana dance at the Balerung in Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Nasi campur at Casa Luna in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    Nasi campur at Casa Luna in Ubud, 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. After the show, I asked a couple of different Balinese guys about the shuttle van back to Ubud. One of them pointed to an old rattletrap with the words Gunung Sari painted on the side, I schlepped down toward it just as the driver fired up the engine, and barely made it on board before it took off. Lucky me!

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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