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Directory Home> Bali Art and Culture> Bali Art Festival
 
BALI ART FESTIVAL
 
It was to Prof. Dr. Made Bandem, though, the head of the Arts School of Denpasar, that befell the most difficult task: to prevent the Arts Festival from simply becoming a venue for traditional performances, which would be a recipe for failure. Bandem's challenge was thus to create new types of dance suited to the demands of a newly urbanized population, but which nevertheless remained very Balinese. His answer was the "Sendratari" Ballet, colossal productions of several. hundred dancers that combine elements of dance, music and theater. Unlike "traditional" theater, Sendratari ballets tell well-structured narratives in Balinese, instead of Kawi. Ordinary people were thus given easy access to myths and epics which they had started forgetting: Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bima Swarga, Arjuna Wiwaha, Sutasoma, etc. The success went beyond the expectations, and, added to the village preparatory contests; it gave the Bali Arts Festival the biggest success it ever enjoyed since its creation twenty-five years ago.

Throughout the festival, though, the main focus will be around the story of the witch Calonarang, who allies herself with the forces of darkness - she goes to a cemetery and unearth bodies as part of her worshipping of the Goddess Durga- to gain magical powers and take revenge against King Airlangga. Together with her counter part the Barong, the mythical protector of the villages, she implements the principle of balance of opposites (Rwabhinneda) which is one of the main principles of Balinese philosophy. This theme of magic and of balance of cosmic forces will come many times throughout the festival. Recently, Bali based contemporary theatre also given access to perform in the festival.

For visitors, the Bali Arts Festival is a little known opportunity to get acquainted with the locally produced handicraft not only from Bali but sometimes also from other areas of Indonesia, and to get access directly to the producers. It is full of good surprises.

While remaining extraordinary resilient, Balinese culture is opening to the world, albeit in a Balinese way: it is the world that is becoming " Balinese ".
 
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