March 16, 2009
Dancers in the dark
Some photos from Ubud area, the cultural heart of Bali.
Very young but electrifying Baris dancer in Peliatan village, Bali.
Legong dancers in Ubud
Serius little dancer in Betty Boop t-shirt on front of a temple.
Photographer enjoying her work in tropical heat.
Posted by marita at 03:07 PM
Fire football in Ubud, Bali
All Kecak performances are different but I have never seen anything like Cak Rina. Director and dancer Ketut Rina performs only in full moon nights and we succeeded to be in the right time and right place. We waited outside Arma temple for the Maestro to arrive. Better to have his permission for filming. I chatted with a Dutch lady, who told me "Rina is as famous in Bali as Madonna for us, a real super star".
Our super star arrived modestly with a motorbike, half naked in a short sarong with his son in the back. He had long black hair, robust, passionate face and kind eyes. I introduced myself and tried not to pay attention to his masculine and muscular body. He looked at me from tip to toe and asked: "are you a dancer" twice during the conversation. I was a bit flattered, have to confess. I got the permission and we made an appointment after the performance to talk more.
Somebody climbed up to the tower of the temple and lit fires. At a sudden there were 50 men and boys on front of the temple and the familiar cak cak started in chorus. An elderly priest in white clothes gave blessings to the men. After some time the ritual turned pretty wild when burning coconuts were thrown towards the crowd. Rina started to play football with the burning coconuts and the audience jumped up to see what´s going on and how this will end.
Soon the fire was everywhere and half naked and barefoot men were too many to escape it. All the men were singing, shouting and whispering. Rina himself was dancing around like the monkey army general Hanuman himself. He kept the control and nobody was hurt. Performance ended up to a healing ceremony where he was carried away. At the end the priest closed the ritual by spraying water on men.
After the audience was gone Rina arrived to look for me. His hair was a mess and running sweat, coal and dirt made him look like a devil himself. But his eyes were calm and kind. I recognized a familiar after performance emptyness in his eyes, which is a very fine moment. He surely needed a beer and a shower. The Dutch lady was still behind me. I could hear her sigh, oh Rina himself, he comes to talk to you. You can talk with Rina...ooh.
Next day we came back to have a closer look to the Agung Rai Art Museum (ARMA). I was photographing gilded gamelan instruments in the garden when a smiling man in sarong approached me. He turned out to be Agung Rai himself, the founder and owner of the Arma. He took us to the gardens and temples of this extraordinary museum which is a good example how a contemporary museum should function with living artists and local people.
Agung Rai playing hide and seek with Marita in Arma
Posted by marita at 02:46 PM
After Choosing My Religion premiere in Kiasma we happily booked ourselves into a flight to Singapore and continued right on to Bali. Idea of one way ticket has always been the most attractive to me. Am I still such a foolish travel romantic after all these years, 53 countries and countless kilometers? Yes is the answer, I tell myself in a plane full of sleeping people. I like nights in planes and hospitals. I feel I´m in safe hands.
What brings me back to Bali here and then? I never counted how many times I have been on this tiny tropical island but it must be more than ten. I´m curious to see how the balinese keep their rich and original combination of culture and religion alive from generation to another. TV seem to attract them less than other nations and the reason seem to be in the social structure. Sharing and togetherness are the main keys to the culture.
Road to Uluwatu in twilight
After holidays on the beach we hired a car, had a lunch in Sanur and started to drive slowly towards Candi Dasa. First kilometers were sheer horror because we were not accustomed to left side traffic and motorbikes who appear from all sides and directions. Not to mention the dogs who wander in the traffic just like cows in India. The last kilometers were another horror – I was struck by infamous Bali belly. The soto ayam (chicken soup) I had for lunch was obviously a wrong choice.
With my last strength I picked up a hotel from Routard, my favorite French travel guide. We ended up to Aquarium, a magnificent piece of architecture on front of the sea. Routard was again really up to date since the hotel has been open only 18 months. I spend the first night in this zen luxury mansion admiring hand made tiles of the toilet floor...
Posted by marita at 08:22 AM