The Beauty Of Classical Balinese Dance

The Beauty Of Classical Balinese Dance

From reading this blog I have written and expressed about my passion for the synergy between performance and dance.
I have written many posts about  caring and nurturing your body with mind/ body practices when preparing
for performance be it either a sporting event, corporate boardroom or singing in a small nightclub.
I attend dance class as often as I can. I find I am able to process
information, movement, emotions easily outside of class in my daily tasks and work.
All I can say unequivocally is that I feel better after working through a class of contemporary choreography,
I feel at home.
Recently I was fortunate to spend some time in the mystical and beautiful country of Bali.
Within Bali, you cannot venture to far without encountering their stories or dance.
In my pursuit of excellence I attended a performance of the Kecak fire Dance in Tanah Lot  and a Classical Balinese Dance and Music workshop at the Mekar Bhuana Conservatory.
Balinese dance is an ancient indigenous art-form that has it roots in Indian and other Asian dances. It is renowned for its characteristic hand and eye moments.
It is set in an outdoors theater space, with breathtaking views of the Indian ocean on the other side.
It occurs every night at 6:30pm for 50,000 Rupiah
I was captivated by the Rama and Sinta Balinese Folk Story . It is both romantic and universal. Words interpreted from the show notes.

“Rama & Shinto enjoyed their romantic life in the forest
However that was about to end due to Patih Marica a minister who swears legion to Rathwana (the king of giants from the kingdom Alengha) who spies on them and turns himself into a golden deer.
Shinto is amazed to see it and together with Rama tries to catch that it. Shinto feels sad and cries.Shinto asks her husband to capture the deer. Rama asks Laksmana to guard Shinto while he is away. Rama catches up with the deer and kills it because he has unsuccessfully captured it. While away the deer turns back into his original form Patih Marica and cries loudly for help to Laksmanan with a trick voice similar to Rama’s voice.Shinto hearing the yelling from her husband. Shinto asks Asksmana to help Rama seeing this Laksmana creates a magic safe circle around Shinto to protect her from any enemy. After Laksmana leaves, Rahwana is kidnapped. Shinto leaves the circle of protection . She is captured and taken to  Rahwana’s palace in the kingdom of giant’s called Alengka Pura. She cries for her husband Rama in vein. Rama sends Hanoman to Alengka Pura. Hanoman tries to persuade Rama to leave but due to her distressed condition believes Hanoman to be an imposter. Hanoman reveals a scared ring on his hand from King Rama and that she will be rescued soon. Santa, starts to have hope again.On Hanoman’s return to the king he informs him of his distressed condition. Rama is angered and appoints the King of Monkeys Sugriwa to be the general and to go to war with the kingdom of giants Alengka Pura. The battle is then set for the kingdom of giants Alengka Pura lead by Rahwana’s brother Detya Kumbakarma and  against Ramas Monkeys army. A fire is lit and Rahwana is able to bring  back Shinto to his kingdom.”

Jo Griffin with Putu Evie Suyadnyani from Mekar Bhuana Conservator
Jo Griffin with Putu Evie Suyadnyani from Mekar Bhuana Conservatory, Bali

 

I also attended a Classical Balinese Dance workshop at Mekar Bhuana Conservatory www.balimusicanddance.com
Mekar Bhuana Conservatory was founded in 2000 by Vaughan Hatch and Putu Evie Suyadnyani, Mekar Bhuana. A family – oriented private conservatory that actively documents studies and reconstructs rare and extinct Balinese gamelan music and dance. They work together with talented musicians and dancers from the villages to revive and create awareness about these indigenous art-forms.
The conservatory is unique because all reconstruction efforts are based on in-depth research in villages across the island. Their students learn either directly from senior village guru or reconstructed from donated vintage and field recordings, mostly sourced from outside of Bali to preserve the original tunings ad ambiance, the music is played on antique instruments which have been restored and retuned, rather than just displayed in some dusty museum.
The founders and members of Mekar Bhuana hope that old Balinese art forms which are now losing popularity in Bali and are faced with potential extinction will one day “mekar” (blossom”) once more in the “bhuana” (world). This is why they constantly make efforts to present the art forms in a way that to young people, by using the media and building up an archive of quality audio and video recordings. One day this archive will become a valuable reference point for future generations who want to know more about Bali’s artistic heritage.
I highly  recommend spending half a day to a day in this school or a series of workshops if you have the time.
It is an authentic Balinese experience that focuses on classical Balinese Dance. Vaughan and Putu passionately communicating a love for their artform. They are professional instructors who are experienced in teaching students of all ethnicities, abilities and ages.
 Mekar Bhuana offers professional workshop programmes for groups who wish not only to learn the practical side but also the history theory and sociology behind theses art-forms. The Conservatory can for an additional option to organise visits to non-tourist museums, gong smiths and meet  gamelan and dance artists in the village. The studio workshop has many fascinating gamelans and gongs that have been sourced, archived  and rebuilt . It was a pleasure to hear them.
My two hour  workshop consisted of an audio visual presentation  with co-founder & ethnomusicologist Vaughan.
After this culture lesson it was followed by an hour of dance with professional instructor Putu Evie who very patiently taught some beginning steps of  Balinese Dance. We focused on feet and a turn. It was a good challenge for me, as I use my body very differently in western contemporary dance.
Being a student of drama I wanted to learn the facial and eye movements that Balinese dancers are known for. A great tool for performance
The family compound and studio where the workshops are offered are professional, friendly well organized.
With lovely touches of morning tea featuring home grown fresh mango.
On finishing the workshop Putu Evie Suyadnyani gifted me a delicate Balinese Sarong and her Educational Tutorial Series “Basic Balinese Dance Movements “ Female Dance – Part 1. DVD.
The DVD is  well produced  and explains the terminology and clear demonstrations of basic Balinese Dance Movements with gamelan music produced by her partner Vaughan Hatch.
There are many other things going on in the conservatory, Mekar Bhuana is also a professional gamelan and dance troupe that perform regularly at a number of venues in Bali and have been invited to major festivals and events overseas, including representing Indonesia at the 2010 Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China. I am pretty sure they would welcome performing within an Australian festival.
You can also purchase recordings of their reconstructed music and dance. Which supports their ongoing documentation and gamelan reconstruction projects. www.mekarbhuana.com
Within my trip to Bali, I am glad I made the time to attend the classical Balinese Dance Workshop, it added an extra special memory and a little bit more to my performance  repertoire.
While I was in Bali I  shot many stunning images. In the next couple of months watch this space for a meditative audio visual mix tape.
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