Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bring On The Dancing Horses

So to the Bali dance experience. It is one of those cultural things you’re urged not to miss and having just returned from it, I’m bloody glad that I didn’t. Tonight’s show took place on one of the many open space stages which abound in Ubud. The show itself was a performance of The Death of Kumbakarna and the story goes like this;
Upon the completion of the Situbanda Bridge, Rama and Laksmana, accompanied by his monkey army under the leader…….
…oh bollocks to it……this is what I managed to make out; There were 100 chanting men throughout the one hour performance, a white monkey character and a red monkey character danced like they were on a diet of All-Bran and laxatives for a week, there was a fight, two ape-like figures came on and shuffled around and a motley crew of other characters like something from Wanderley Wagon on acid wandered on and off at various stages. Three princesses trooped on and off at random intervals with bows and arrows and fired them at the ape-like figures. They seemed pretty pissed with the apes. It was like watching Flaming Lips without the fake blood. Extremely entertaining stuff.
I don’t know who won the fight or what they were fighting for but I really don’t think that was the point. The most entertaining part of the show was the incessant chanting - ’chak chak chak chakkity chak’ - of the 100 or so males who formed a choral circle around the action throughout. This vocal chanting is, apparently, unique to what I witnessed tonight - the Kecak or ‘Monkey Dance’. Bali, specifically Ubud can, do little wrong for me. The night ended even more surreally - a pile of coconut husks were piled high and set alight. Then, a man appeared astride a fake horse - making King Arthur’s steed from The Holy Grail look like Shergar - and he danced and pranced around the pile before bizarrely launching himself into the lit pile of coconuts. Again and again. This he continued to do for 5 minutes. With that, the lights went up and we tourists went home. Ubud’s been good to me.

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