Memories of Balinese Dance
Percussive instruments, including a variety of chimes, provided the otherwordly, dreamlike soundtrack to an elaborately costumed series of movements based in Hindu legend and folklore. The Ramayana, one of the faith’s principle texts, figures prominently here.
Though I had heard of the kecak (monkey) dance, I was unprepared for the fierceness and unparalleled emotional quality in the choreographed telling of kidnappings, revenge, betrayal and redemption. Nothing like the residents of monkey forests in Sangeh or Ubud, these cast members, portrayed by dancers unrecognizable to their own kin, formed a formidable army.
Other dramatis personae included a queen, a dragon, a witch and, of course, a hero figured who prominently throughout.
Not having had a program or any previous knowledge of the stories behind the individual dances, I was left to watch the characters swarm around each other in a storytelling ritual that felt modern in its conceptualization yet timeless in its intricacies and resonance.
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