Legong Sudhamala

10 Setembre 2012

Legong és una dansa clàssica balinesa creada probablement el segle XIX per a l’entreteniment de la cort. Es caracteritza pels intricats moviments dels dits de les mans i per les expressions facials constantment canviants. En un origen ballaven el Legong noies impúbers. En canvi, avui, almenys en les diferents versions de Legong que es ballen per als turistes, les ballarines són noies adolescents o dones adultes. És en les representacions dels temples -durant cerimònies especials- on encara es poden veure versions originals de Legong interpretat per noietes preadolescents. Hi ha diferents versions de Legong, totes inspirades en episodis dels llibres sagrats de l’hinduisme. El vídeo presenta una nova versió concebuda, coreografiada i musicada -aquest any 2012- per l’afamat professor d’arts balineses I Wayan Dibia, en col·laboració amb el també compositor de música per a orquestra de gamelan, el mestre I Ketut Cater. Podem gaudir de la dansa completa, gravada el dia de l’estrena, el 4 de setembre de 2012, al banjar -pavelló destinat a la celebració d’actes- del vilatge Kutuh Kelod, a prop d’Ubud. Els intèrprets i músics pertanyen al grup artístic d’Ubud, Semara Ratih, del qual n’és propietari i director l’excel·lent ballarí de dansa clàssica balinesa, Anak Agung Anom Putra.
Sinopsi de la dansa, segons l’original del programa de mà lliurat el dia de l’estrena: “Sudhamala és una paraula sànscrita que significa purificació de l’esperit. La història és extreta d’un episodi del Mahabharata. Sota la influència de Kalika, serventa de la deessa Durga, la reina Kunti arrossega el seu afillat Sahadewa al cementiri de Gandamayu amb la intenció d’oferir-lo en sacrifici a Durga. Però Sahadewa és un home fort que no es deixa dominar fàcilment per la seva madrastra. Un cop al cementiri els papers canvien i ara és Sahadewa qui vol matar la reina Kunti. Però la deessa Durga demana a Sahadewa que utilitzi el poder per restituir a la reina Kunti la seva divinitat. Així la reina Kunti pot retornar, ja com a deessa Uma, al món superior al qual pertany”.
El redactat original pot llegir-se a continuació, en la versió anglesa del comentari.

Descripció tècnica: Vídeo enregistrat amb càmera digital Sony HDR-CX740VE. Arxiu original: TS (AVC). HD (Alta Definició). Gravació sense trípode.

Legong Sudhamala is a new Balinese traditional dance created on 2012 by Professor I Wayan Dibia and Musician Master I Ketut Cater. Performance by Semara Ratih group, from Ubud. The full dance was recorded the day of the premiere, on 4th September this year, at Banjar Kutuh Kelod, Ubud. Bali. Synopsis literally copied from the hand program held to the audience on the day of the premiere: “A newly created dance, based on the classical Legong, Legong Sudhamala enacts an episode of The Mahabharata epic. Sudhamala is a Sanskrit word that means “to clean of purify”. Under the influence of Kalika, the servant of Goddess Durga, Queen Kunti drags her step son Sahadewa to Gandamayu cemetery as a sacrifice to Durga. But Sahadewa too strong fer her to kill. Instead Goddess Durga begs Sahadewa to use his power to return the Goddess into her original form as Goddess Uma, so that she can return to the upper world where she belongs. Legong Sudhamala was created by I Wayan Dibia (2012) with musical accompaniment joinly compossed by I Ketut Cater and I Wayan Dibia”.

Technical descriptions: Recorded by digital camera Sony HDR-CX740VE. Original file: TS (AVC). HD (High Definition). Shooted by hand, no tripod used.


Harvesting Coconuts on a Rainy Day

9 Abril 2011

In the morning of a rainy day I was at the veranda of my house in Ubud, in the very heart of Bali. Lying among comfortable thick and soft feather cushions reading Sherwood Anderson’s book Winesburg, Ohio. I could listen only the sounds of singing birds and rainy water falling on palm shining leaves. Then I saw Komang climbing a nearby trunk of coconut tree. My camera was within one’s reach. Komang did not notice I was recording him. He was too busy on harvesting coconuts up there. This is a video with nothing else than a Balinese young man harvesting coconuts on a rainy day in Bali island. My first video at Vimeo. I hope not the last (and not the best).

Technical descriptions: Recorded by digital still camera Sony Cyber-shot HX5V. Original file m2ts. Shooted without tripod.


Kebyar Trompong

27 febrer 2011

I Made Putra Wijaya balla la dansa tradicional Kebyar Trompong al temple Pura Dalem Agung, de Padangtegal, al sud d’Ubud. El temple és al cor del petit Bosc dels Micos -Alas Bojog, en balinès-, popularment conegut com Monkey Forest. I Made Putra Wijaya és un excel·lent ballarí i músic de gamelan (especialitzat en els timbals). El ballarí és fill de Peliatan, avui en dia un barri annexionat a Ubud. En Made (Ade) ha viatjat diverses vegades a l’estranger per ballar dansa tradicional balinesa. Ha actuat en països com Holanda, Vietnam, Alemanya i Dinamarca. Solament els millors ballarins són capaços de ballar la dansa Kebyar Trompong. Va ser creada durant la dècada de 1920 per ser interpretada pel considerat millor ballarí de la història balinesa, el mític Mario (pronunciat mària). L’intèrpret de Kebyar Trompong fa a la vegada de ballarí i músic. En alguns moments, el ballarí interpreta solos amb els gongs de bronze d’un instrument de gamelan, anomenat trompong. El fet de ballar sempre ajupit fa que la dansa sigui realment complicada, apta solament per als millors. L’orquestra femenina de gamelan que acompanya el ballarí és del vilatge de Peliatan. Més informació sobre el ballarí, en aquest enllaç: I Made Putra Wijaya.

Descripció tècnica: Vídeo gravat amb càmera digital compacta Sony Cyber-shot HX5V. Format original: mp4. Gravació d’una sola seqüència enregistrada enterament a pols, sense trípode.

I Made Putra Wijaya dances Kebyar Trompong in the premises of Pura Dalem Agung, a temple located in Padangtegal, at the southern most tip of Ubud. The temple is in the heart of the small Monkey Forest (Alas Bojog, in Balinese language). Made Putra Wijaya is an excellent dancer and Gamelan musician from Peliatan, a village at the eastern side of Ubud, in the district of Gianyar. Made (Ade) has travelled abroad several times for playing Balinese traditional dances. He’s been in Holland, Vietnam, Germany and Denmark. Kebyar Trompong is not an easy dance. Only well trained artists can do it. The dance was created in the 1920s to be performed by the mytical Balinese dancer Mario. In a Kebyar Trompong dance a male dancer is also a musician, playing solos on a gamelan gong with the rest of the orchestra. The dancer twirls his drumsticks while playing the gongs of a gamelan instrument. The ladies Gamelan Orchestra comes from the village of Peliatan. More information about the dancer at this link: I Made Putra Wijaya.

Technical descriptions: Recorded by digital still camera Sony Cyber-shot HX5V. Original file mp4. Recorded in a single shoot, no tripod used.


Bamboo to Bronze

6 Desembre 2010

The rehearsal was held few weeks before the group from Sanggar Çudamani flew to USA to present it’s new production Bamboo to Bronze. It was recorded at night time at Pura Tamen Limut, a temple located in Pengosekan, Ubud, the same village where Çudamani Group comes from. In the video we see a bit from the beginning of the new production Bamboo to Bronze. The performance features 26 artists including choreography and composition by I Dewa Putu Berata. The artistic director was born into a family of musicians and painters and studied under his father I Dewa Nyoman Sura. He is the founding member of Sanggar Çudamani. Sanggar Çudamani comprised of 60 members. I Dewa Putu Berata has directed numerous gamelan ensembles and works on various international projects throughout the world. I Nyoman Cerita, choreographer, learned dance at age 6 from his grandfather I Made Kenyir. He is recipient of numerous awards as well as from Titane Spectacles/Le Jardin Des Poiries in Paris. Emiko Saraswati Susilo was one of Çudamani’s founding members. She began her formal studies in Javanese and Balinese dance under the direction of KRT Sasmintadipura and Ni Made Wiratini. She has studied Javanese singing from Tri Haryanto and Midiyanto. I Dewa Ketut Alit studied drumming with his father and began performing at age 11.
Bamboo to Bronze is a new creation of Çudamani’s group. The music and dance ensemble from Bali, harnesses movement, music and spectacle to transport audiences into the vibrant world of the treasured gamelan art form. Bamboo to Bronze highlights Balinese contemporary reality by celebrating the intimate and poetic sounds of a small village as well as the virtuosic, dynamic and technically dazzling sound of the brilliant seven-toned gamelan Semarandana. The simple beauty of bamboo and the glorious sheen of bronze continue to coexist in the increasingly complex and sophisticated culture of Bali.


Dance in Blue

24 Novembre 2010

The rehearsal was held few weeks before the group from Sanggar Çudamani flew to USA to present it’s new production Bamboo to Bronze. It was recorded at Pura Tamen Limut, a temple located in Pengosekan, Ubud, the same village where Çudamani Group comes from. In the video we see one of the dances included in the new production Bamboo to Bronze. The real name of the dance is Pengleban, but I call it Dance in Blue because the dress color of the four female dancers. Blue color is an unusual color in Balinese traditional dances. The performance features a stellar array of 26 artists including choreography and composition by I Dewa Putu Berata. The artistic director was born into a family of musicians and painters and studied under his father I Dewa Nyoman Sura. He is the founding member of Sanggar Çudamani. Sanggar Çudamani comprised of 60 members. I Dewa Putu Berata has directed numerous gamelan ensembles and works on various international projects throughout the world. I Nyoman Cerita, choreographer, learned dance at age 6 from his grandfather I Made Kenyir. He is recipient of numerous awards as well as from Titane Spectacles/Le Jardin Des Poiries in Paris. Emiko Saraswati Susilo was one of Çudamani’s founding members. She began her formal studies in Javanese and Balinese dance under the direction of KRT Sasmintadipura and Ni Made Wiratini. She has studied Javanese singing from Tri Haryanto and Midiyanto. I Dewa Ketut Alit studied drumming with his father and began performing at age 11.
Bamboo to Bronze is a new creation of Çudamani’s group. The music and dance ensemble from Bali, harnesses movement, music and spectacle to transport audiences into the vibrant world of the treasured gamelan art form. Bamboo to Bronze highlights Balinese contemporary reality by celebrating the intimate and poetic sounds of a small village as well as the virtuosic, dynamic and technically dazzling sound of the brilliant seven-toned gamelan Semarandana. The simple beauty of bamboo and the glorious sheen of bronze continue to coexist in the increasingly complex and sophisticated culture of Bali.


Nit de dansa / Night of Performance

8 Novembre 2010

Cada diumenge al vespre I Kadek Adi Mahendra es dirigeix al museu de les arts Agung Rai (ARMA) d’Ubud. De fa quatre o cinc anys Mahendra balla la dansa amb màscara Jauk al wantilan o escenari a l’aire lliure del museu. Algunes vegades el ballarí interpreta dues danses, el Baris i el Jauk Longgor. Mahendra, com tantíssimes altres criatures d’Ubud i els vilatges de l’entorn, va aprendre dansa clàssica balinesa a les classes que s’imparteixen al museu ARMA. Actualment Mahendra, encara un ballarí molt jove, és un expert en la dansa Jauk. La interpreta magníficament. Al vídeo podem veure el ballarí al moment de maquillar-se i vestir-se per ballar a l’escenari a l’aire lliure del museu un diumenge al vespre. Començarà amb la dansa del guerrer o Baris. A continuació, interpretarà la dansa amb màscara, Jauk Longgor. Acabada la interpretació de la dansa Jauk, Mahendra retorna al primer pis del museu per desvestir-se. En acabar tanca la porta i surt al pati del museu. Puja a la seva motocicleta i retorna al seu poble, Abianbase, molt a prop de la població de Gianyar.

Once a week in the evening Balinese dancer I Kadek Adi Mahendra goes to Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) in Ubud. Since four or five years Mahendra performs Jauk dance on the open air stage of the museum. Sometimes, before performing Jauk dance Mahendra also dances Baris. Like other many children from Ubud and sorrounding villages, Mahendra learned Balinese classical dance at the premises of the museum. Now Mahendra is a Jauk Longgor dance expert. At the video we can see Mahendra making-up and dressing at the second floor of ARMA museum. When his performance is over the dancer goes back to the room at the second floor of the building. After undress Mahendra close the door behind him and goes to the patio of the museum. He gets his motorbike and rides back home.


Chinese Opera งิ้ว

20 febrer 2010

When the ancestors of today’s Thai Chinese community migrated south and arrived in Thailand, they brought their culture with them and preserved it in their new surroundings. In their cultural baggage were traditional Chinese forms of entertainment which brought them solace as they endured the rigors of beginning life anew in a place that was far from home. One form of popular theatre that they especially loved was ngiw (งิ้ว), or Chinese Opera. Nowadays there are ngiw troupes not only in Bangkok as it used to be before. However, the heads of most ngiw troupes hire performers from Isan instead of Chinese singers, who are very scarce. It isn’t necessary that the actors speak Chinese; all they have to do is memorise the words required. Not only stage roles are taken by Thais from Isan these days. The musicians, too, usually come from the North-East. But all of these changes make very little difference to the audience, as those who understand all of what is going on up on stage are few. At present there are about 30 ngiw troupes active in Thailand, not more than 10 of them made of up Chinese performers. Most of them have work to do all year long, as they are invited to perform at different towns and cities. One of these troupes is performing in Nakhon Ratchasima town, or Korat as most Thai like to say. The performance was held close to the monument of local female hero Tao Suranari (Ya Mo) during the celebrations of Chinese New Year.


Bali. Cerimonial Night

10 febrer 2010

When night falls people from Pengosekan gather at the temple Pura Penataram Dalem to celebrate its anniversary. It’s a sacred and magnificient celebration, called Odalan, wich take place every 210 days. The Pura Dalem is the temple of the dead, where cremation ceremonies are held. But the video shows no funeral on the temple premises, only joy and fun. At the beginning we see the entrance of the Barongs at the campound of the temple. The Barongs are the most sacred criatures on the Balinese mythology. Balinese Barongs come in many forms, but the most common is like a baroque Chinese lion, the Barong Ket, with big eyes and clacking jaws. It is one of the most sacred masks in Bali. Probably every village has at least one. The Barong is accompanied by a Balinese gamelan orchestra. The Barong protects the village from harmful influences. It parades the streets every Galungan festival, dancing in front of houses and shops, warding off evil. The Balinese bow in reverence. It does the same just before Nyepi, the Balinese New Year. Two men are inside: one operates the wooden head and lower movable jaw, and the other holds up the back and arched tail. No special qualifications for the men, but they must belong to the same banjar as the Barong. And the need to be stout as the whole Barong Ket costume weighs about 85 kilos. The front is heavy and the dancer will need to be relieved during long processions.
After the priest blessing the sacred criatures, Barong Macan (Tiger Barong) starts dancing, at 00:56. [From the beginning to the end of Barong Macan Dance the music -playing strings and flutes- is simply wonderful: highly recommended listening with attention]. When Barong dance ends, a man dancing Jauk Manis appears [03:57]. Jauk dance is a classical solo performance expressing the movements of a demon. Jauk is derived from a traditional play in which all the dancers, wearing frightening masks of the raksasa or demon type, recreate episodes from the Kawi versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, like the dance Baris. Jauk is considered a difficult dance. The dancer aim is to express the character revealed in the appearance of the mask: strong, powerful personality. Unlike the Baris dancer, a Jauk performer cannot rely on facial expressions to convey feeling. He is obliged to express his demoniac exuberance through his gestures alone. The round, protruding eyes and tentacle like fingernails are the marks of identification for a demon. The Jauk dancers movements closely resemble those of the Baris, but his manner is more exaggerated and violent. Suddenly he lunges, the music becomes frenetic with loud, clashing sounds, he spins to reach the perimeter of the stage: then stops, precise and controlled. Slowly, he retreats, as if preoccupied by dark, treacherous thoughts. When Jauk dance finishes appear on the video two man playing Lawak Bali [07:10], a sort of comedy very appreciated for all audiences. Both adults and children enjoy watching the men acting like clowns. Finally, we see a bit of Barong Ket dance [08:56]. Barong Ket is the most sacred Balinese creature. With a fragment of this dance the video ends. The musicians playing gongs, strings, drums, flutes and xylophon instruments (Gamelan Orchestra) are members of sanggar Çudamani, from the village of Pengosekan. Çudamani Group is one of the most finest and prestigious artistic ensembles in Bali. Enjoy the images and have fun.


Prasat Ta Meuan Thom

3 febrer 2010

Prasat Ta Meuan Thom is an old Khmer Temple at the Thai-Cambodian border. Probably the temple was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII (AD 1181-1215). Together with Khao Phra Vihan (or Preah Vihear, according to Cambodians) it is a tug of war between Thailand and Cambodia. Despite being in Thai administrative soil Cambodians claim it too. Though till now the area is not being disturbed there is an Army Thai post outside the inner wall of the temple. The sandstone stairs we see at the begining of the video are in the southern most temple complex. Facing the stairs is the jungle. Thick jungle, bunches of bambus, termite nests, scattered stones being covered by huge trunks and thick roots of rubber trees. In the canopy of trees nest a lot of singing birds and in the soil, under rotten leaves mixed up with the humid earth there are still undetonated hand grenades and land mines left by Khmer Rouge in the 1980s. when the Cambodian Maoists occupied the site. As they did in other Khmer ruins, the soldiers had destroyed a lot from the temple after selling to particulars and merchants sculptures and lintels. What is left is not much but still worth to see. What makes it an special place is the isoleted location. A part of the soldiers (they’ll not bother you) almost no body else is around. I’ve been there at least four times. Up to now I had never met a single foreigner during my visits to Prasat Ta Meuan Thom and the small two other Khmer ruins few hundred meters north from the main temple. I’ve just sighted few peasants passing by or kids grazing cows.


El teatre d’ombres

17 Desembre 2009

A pesar d’evidents influències forasteres, a Tailàndia perviu la tradició. Malgrat que és més difícil que en temps passats poder fruir d’una representació de teatre d’ombres amb titelles, en segons quins llocs encara és possible. Fa anys, representacions d’aquest tipus de teatre eren comuns tant a Tailàndia com a tota la península de Malacca i a l’arxipèlag indonesi (sobretot a les illes de Java i Bali). En alguns llocs de Malàisia i Indonèsia la tradició perdura -en diuen wayang kulit. Malauradament, a Tailàndia és un art que recula. Però gràcies a l’esforç d’alguns monestirs budistes i a la voluntat d’artistes conscients que el teatre d’ombres és un llegat que s’ha de preservar, avui és possible veure’n representacions durant la celebració d’algunes festes populars, especialment les que es fan dins el clos dels santuaris.
A Tailàndia trobem dos tipus de titelles d’ombres. Els genuïns són uns titelles de mida aproximada a la d’una persona adulta. Són plans i fets amb pell de búfal, exactament com els de mida més petita. Dels titelles gegants els tais en diuen nang yai. Dels petits, nang talung. Veure una funció de titelles gegants és insòlit. Es poden veure en comptadíssims indrets, solament en llocs on esporàdicament se celebren representacions aprofitant festes religioses. Els monestirs que tenen titelles gegants acostumen a exposar-los molt dignament. Un temple de Ratchaburi, per exemple, disposa d’una magnífica col·lecció de nang yai. S’exhibeixen en un pavelló de fusta de teca. Al mateix temple també se celebren, molt de tant en tant, algunes representacions. Són espectacles complexes, un sol titella sovint requereix la participació de més d’una persona. Els qui manipulen els titelles han d’haver fet un elevat nombre de pràctiques i assajos. Se n’ha de saber molt per moure’ls amb propietat. Posar ànima a un titella s’aconsegueix solament després d’anys de manipulació i aprenentatge.
En un temple de la província de Phetchaburi podem veure-hi una esplèndida col·lecció de 40 titelles gegants. Segons va assegurar-me la persona que va obrir-me la porta, els titelles exposats superen els cent anys d’antiguitat. La mostra exhibeix el material que s’ha salvat dels més de 300 titelles gegants elaborats per un monjo que es deia Luang Pho Rit.
Probablement, és al sud de Tailàndia on la tradició del teatre d’ombres es manté més viva. A la ciutat de Nakhon Si Thammarat podem visitar un mestre en la manipulació i fabricació de titelles de pell, en Suchart Subsin. Casa seva és una mena de museu, taller i botiga alhora on el senyor Subsin i la seva família es dediquen tant a l’art de fabricació dels titelles com a la presentació d’espectacles al teatre d’ombres familiar. El teatret està instal·lat en un pavelló de fusta adjacent al pati de la casa. Per no gaires diners, en Suchart Subsin oferirà un espectacle de titelles similar al que va oferir-me a mi, concretament la representació gravada al vídeo que podeu veure. A la darrera part del vídeo veiem el senyor Subsin a l’altra banda de la pantalla il·luminada, en plena tasca de manipulació dels titelles. Suchart Subsin posa veu i moviment als titelles; la seva dona, la música -instruments de percussió- i els sons complementaris.

Despite globalism, tradition is still very alive in Thailand. In some aspects it remains stronger than others. Nowadays is more difficult than older days to have the chance to see a performance of Shadow Puppet Theatre. They were common throughout Thailand, Malacca Peninsula and Indonesia. In some places of the Indonesian Archipelago and peninsular Malaysia these performances (wayang kulit) are still very vivid but unfortunately not much in Thailand. Luckily some Buddhist monasteries are keeping the old tradition and during special temple fairs they perform Shadow Puppet Theatre. There are two kinds of Shadow Theatre in Thailand. The less common and more spectacular is the one called nang yai (big puppet). Nang yai puppets are almost as big as men but they are not articulated, unlike the conventional and smaller shadow puppets, called nang talung. Only in few places we have the chance to see a shadow theatre performance using this giant buffalo skin puppets. In Ratchaburi, in a  well preserved teak building, there is an impressive exhibition of nang yai. In the premises there is also a place where the players, both puppeteer and musicians, practice and perform the ancient art of shadow puppet only in a special days. In Phetchaburi there is also a temple where we can see a very old exhibition of nang yai. From 300 original pieces made more than a 100 years ago by the monk Luang Pho Rit, there are only 40 big shadow puppets left. But it’s worth to visit them. Probably is in the southern part of Thailand where the tradition of shadow puppets remains more alive. In Nakhon Si Thammarat we can visit a master on that matter, Kun Suchart Subsin. In his house-museum-studio Mr. Subsin and his family manufactures and sells traditional puppets, coloured or simply black. Besides this, and likely still more interesting, the master has his own theatre where he shows the art of performing puppets. For small donation visitors can enjoy the same or similar show you can watch on that video. During performances Kun Subsin’s wife helps him by playing the percussion instruments.


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