We spent 4 days in Ubud, a serene village in Bali. Ubud, while at first glance has the looks of a typical laidback village is actually a bustling town full of resorts which offer nothing less than heaven to the tourists staying there. We stayed at a resort by name ‘Komaneka at Bisma’, in a private pool villa. Our infinite edged pool overlooked the palm trees in the distance with a small river flowing about 100 feet below.
As we had planned the trip ourselves we had no compulsion to follow any schedule; we spent the first three days loitering around Ubud and in the process did visit a lot of local attractions. The last day we had reserved for an excursion to places around Ubud.
Balinese dance: Legong dance
The Stage – Ubud palace
Watching the Legong dance reminded me of the Indian classical dance form Kathakali. Infact, balinese dance is a mixture of many Indian dance forms, and ‘Mudras’ (codified hand gestures) form the central basis of even Balinese dance as in Indian classical dance forms.
Gamelan Music ensemble
The accompanying music was provided by a music ensemble called ‘Gamelan’ which is unique to Indonesian region.
The dance started with these two dancers moving slowly with their eyes closed immersing themselves in the rhythm of the Gamelan. The dancers moves were in perfect sych of the Gamelan, increasing pace as the rhythm picked up. The dancers moved from rigorous activity to moments where they stood still – but here too they expressed through subtleties like fluttering fingers and rapid eye movements. Legong dance is performed by girls who have not yet entered puberty. Childrens are trained from a tender age of 5 and by the age of 14 are ready for retirement as a Legong performer!
Then followed a solo dance, mostly that of a king or someone prominent. The emotions conveyed in his dance gave the feeling that he was showing proudness, elegance or royalness.
I dug up info on Legong dance and found the following story:
“The story derives from the history of East Java in the 12th and 13th centuries: when on a journey the King of Lasem finds the maiden R
angkesari lost in the forest. He takes her home and locks her in a house of stone. Rangkesari’s brother, the Prince of Daha, learns of her captivity and threatens war unless she is set free.
Rangkesari begs her captor to avoid war by giving her liberty, but the king prefers to fight. On his way to battle, he is met by a bird of ill omen that predicts his death. In the fight that ensues he is killed. The dance dramatizes the farewells of the King of Laserm as he departs for the battlefield and his ominous encounter with the bird.”
I guess the solo dance was that of King Lasem.
After this the two Legong dancers join the solo performer and enact a scene where they are in search of something valuable.
This was followed by another solo performance. The dancer seemed to appear like a warrior who is preparing to go to battle.
A group performance of five dancers followed this.
The Barong dance: The Barong dance is a story about the struggle between good and evil. Good is personified by the Barong Keket – a strange but fun loving creature in the shape of a shaggy semi lion.
The dance started by 7:00PM and finished by 8:30PM but there was not even a single moment where we felt bored. It was one experience which will stay with me for a long time.
Date: 2nd september 2010
Place: Ubud Palace, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia