Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bali Dancing

If you ever end up in Ubud, Bali, you won't get more than three steps down the street before someone asks you if you want to "see the dancing?"  What they're referring to is the variety Balinese dances that are performed at the palace in Ubud every night of the week. Each night a different troupe of dancers performs somewhere around 5 dances in front of the beautiful backdrop of the Palace doors in the courtyard.
There are other places you can see the dancing in Ubud, but the location here is so central, and so beautiful, we didn't feel compelled to go further afield.

This was called the trance dance; there were two dancers who moved in unison, but they kept their eyes closed for the entire dance.
In the foreground, you can see one of the gamelan players playing his instrument with a white-headed hammer.  The gamelan sounded very discordant to our ears at first, but as our ears adjusted, and the dancers moved in synchrony with the percussive notes, it became more pleasant and coherent.  The gamelan refers to group of instruments that form something like an orchestra.  The entire group has been constructed and tuned to be played together; you wouldn’t cart one piece of it off and play with instruments from another gamelan, like you would with instruments from a western orchestra.  Additionally, pairs of instruments are deliberately tuned just slightly off from one another, so that when they are played, there is a little bit of interference between the two, especially when the beats are just slightly off from each other, as they are meant to be.  Some of the instruments have a very soft, mellow sound, while others are much more percussive and sharp.  Watching the players was just as much fun as watching the dancers.  The video clip will give you a sense of what the gamelan sounds like, as well as some of the motion in the dance, though each dance had a different style:

We loved the dancing in Bali. The music was so interesting, their faces were so expressive and their movements of their dancing so precise.
Some of the masks of the dances were amazing too.  This guy was one of our favorites.
When you do go to "the dancing" in Ubud, we also recommend you take yourself down to Gelato Secrets afterward for a scoop. As fantastic as the dancing.