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A Classical Art Rendezvous at Bali Art Festival

5 June 2009

Widen your horizon on the treasures of Balinese arts and crafts by visiting Bali Arts Festival (BAF) 2009. Melodious sounds of gamelan music break the silence of night and keep away the fierce heat of midday. More and more sizzling crafts are exhibited and on sale here. It is a clue about the atmosphere of the event. On that account, you will always have a reason to keep on visiting the festival.

The annual BAF held on 13 June-11 July 2009 does not only become the highlight event to Balinese artists, but also become the most sought moment by Balinese community. It will become a reunion of artists and their enjoyers. All will pamper their aesthetic sense through art performance and appreciation.

Aside from contemporary or modem arts, this one-month long festival is not left behind to present some classical arts. Visitors and spectators will be taken to have a closer look at some classical arts existing in Bali. Probably, beyond such an event it would be rather difficult to find them. Some of classical arts performed in this festival are gambuh, legong kraton, selonding and genggong.

Gambuh is a classical drama- dance considered as the basic of some Balinese dance-dramas. Arja operetta, for instance, is considered to have been inspired by this art. Gambuh that is rich in movement combines some arts such as literature, dance-drama, vocal and fine art. It performance is accompanied by gamelan music. In essence, its theme features the Prince Panji chronicle. This story originates in Java and composed around the fourteenth century. That is why most dialogues of figures in their acting use Old Javanese language (Kawi) and only few figures speak Balinese language to interpret the story line.

Another one is Legong Kraton that is taken by two or more female dancers. It is named so because it was originally developed in the palace or keraton. Marked characteristic of this dance is the use of colorful prada fan, except for on the condong dancer. It is said that its movement is derived from that of gambuh. This dance is accompanied by special gamelan named Semar Pegulingan.

Meanwhile, the classical gamelan music is selonding. The famous troupe is that originates in Tenganan Village, Karangasem. Tenganan is a traditional village inhabited by the native Balinese. Local people also give a nickname to the garnelan as Bhatara Bagus Salunding. It is considered as a holy music of the gods (salu means holy place and nding means to purify). This music is usually used to accompany Abuang dance and Pandanus War ritual. Beyond Tenganan, it also exists at other areas like Bugbug, Timbrah, and Besakih. Other than previous areas, this gamelan music is also found at other regions across Bali. However, it gets less attention compared to other kinds of Balinese gamelan music. That is why its existence and development are less known.

Probably, the rarest local music performed in public is genggong or Balinese jaw harp. This traditional music is made of a piece of string spread on a blade of dry palm trunk. To play it, the genggong is held by left hand, while the right hand pulls its string, and mouth chamber as its resonator is adjusted to produce different tones. Along with other instruments, it is used to accompany the Kodok Dance that is familiar to the farming community. Since it is rarely played, many young generations do not know much about this. Thanks to Bali Arts Festival so this rare traditional music can be seen today.

As if, the Bali Arts Festival had become a rendezvous and brought new life to these Balinese classical arts. Along with the modem arts, they will go in harmony forever with the space and time of the supporting community. Therefore, the next generations can tell their children more than just a legend. Those arts will not let it disappear without a trace.