The crowd is packed, all seats taken in the open courtyard of this sixteenth century palace here in the heart of Ubud, in Bali. This is the island of miracles, where gods and the people live together in harmony with nature.
A living fantasy.
The gamelan is ready. Second only to the full blown western orchestra, it is an ensemble that has no written musical notes. The music flows following centuries old tradition – but is distinct and different from one gamelan to another.
The dances are a different matter.
They are scripted, with many different stories to tell and capture the audience. In legong- most of the narratives are from the period of the influx of hinduism in the region. However, the forms themselves are believed to be even older -and is reflected in the tribes who lives up north in the mountains – the Bali Aga.
That is not to say that the culture in Bali is not evolving. The photograph of the woman dancing in the Ancak Saji Ubud Palace is an example of new forms of dance being added into the repertoire. The Kebyar Duduk hails also from north Bali. It shows a woman dressed as a prince dancing depicting enthusiasm and courage.
The crowd watches in silence. Restless. As the gamelan plays on senses and transports the viewers back in an old palace courtyard, in time, to another world.
For gamelan music: https://youtu.be/M6_OBBaIUvo