This year marks a full century since the Kebyar style of gamelan music burst on to the traditional music scene in Bali, electrifying and stimulating , revitalizing the performing arts on the island.


As a tribute, a festival dedicated to Kebyar, the Ubud Village Art and Culture Festival,  has been organized in Ubud. Last night we attended the show at the Lotus stage of Pura Taman Kemude Saraswati.

Fittingly, in tribute to the dynamic renaissance of Balinese music and dance that Kebyar brought to the island a hundred years ago, all the performances that took place this night on the Lotus stage were new creations, new explorations of Balinese music and dance. The earthy blended with the abstractly experimental, the delicate sounds of kebyar  contrasted with harsh metallic din. Elements of south India’s Katakali, western modern dance moves, traditional Javanese refinement in action, with Balinese dynamic movement folded in, dominated the stage performances.  Suspended rhythms and atonal sounds, the reverberations of natural sounds  blended in and out of night as composers alternated their performances with choreographers. Some of it was electrifying, some of it baffling, but all of it was intriguing. Perhaps also not to everyone’s taste but certainly striking out in new directions.


Above and Below: Gongseng, choreographed by Agung Rahma Putra, contained elements of Katakali



Below: the composition Aquafer, soft and slow, with delicate liquid rhythms suspended for seconds in between, composed by Wayan Gede Yudane




Above and Below: Laung Shri, strongly symbolic choreography by Kinanti Sekar Rahma. 


Below: An earthy performance of “The Land is Talking” composed by Dewa Ketut Alit closed the night’s performances


Below: the Lotus Stage of the Pura Taman Kemude Saraswati


Text and photos by Rio Helmi