try this for size ~
bygone days - and history makes no effort to shield us from this
painful knowledge - the Kings of Europe were a pretty timid bunch,
Pussyfboting through life in a suit of armour to protect them from
the attentions of their fellowman, and surrounded by a bevy of Court
Jesters, whose task it was to soften the facts of life for them
and keep them in good humour. Crude characters, these Jesters, capering
about in striped cat-suits, caps and bells. But theiriob was to
amuse the monarch, and amuse, flatter and cajole him they did -
or next day the Palace had a new Jester.
while the European Kings were splitting their sides at the coarse
buffonery of their Jesters, a different pattern entirely was being
set in Bali. Even in such a beautiful island, a ruler is not immune
from melancholy or insomnia. Well aware of this ' the Kings Of Bali
sought and antidote - and came up with th
the most beautiful girls and handsome men were allowed to appear
before Royalty and these, in turn, competed to present dances each
More spectacular than the other erfo
of a gamelan orchestra
I'Lleu to the
Don't let the WOrdec>atnetan throw you. In case
waiting to hear a gamelan, re-or-less
precussion instruments, starting w'itthisthae acOnIkIciction of
which looks like a miniature zylophone, and running the gamut of
a strange assortment of gongs, some like small saucepan lids, thers
resembling inverted pressure cookers, right up to the big - ando
1 do mean big - gong. Finally, there are a couple of dynamic drummers,
to help keep all this razzamatazz on the line.
the picture? Finel Let's press on.
original Ugong Kraton was, and still is, a ballet performed by three
young girls, exquisitely clad in traditional court costume - gold
embroidered brocade, moulded to the torso in tight folds, falling
to the ground in'a train; a tall coronet of trembling gold flowers,
and long flowi h
studded with frangipanni
ballet is based on a tale from old Java, and the three small girls
in their ornate dress Portray a variety of characters
male and female - with no change Of costume.
you wonder, if this dance was designed for a King's delight, why
the old boy didn't fit em out with Proper clobber? Why the mighty
warrior, Lasem, wafts around in girl's clothes and why his captive
Queen suddenly starts dancing the art of her kid
up a pair of brother? It is only when the little servant girl p
p perforated buffalo-hide wings and does some fast footwork as the
Garuda bird, that any attempt is made at costume identification.
come to think of it, how not?
old Kings knew their legends a darned sight better than we know
Red Riding Hood, and needed no costumes to carry the
If the action was likely to be involved, a spruiker stood on the
sidelines and gave out with a f0Otlight commentary, the dancers
contenting themselves with exaggerated eye movements and
fingers to convey their message.
for elegance established, it was only a matter of time before talented
solists and musicians came up with new themes.
legends were all right in their own way, but did they have to
the sole source of inspiration?
on your nellyl said the dancers. Ut's pay tribute to the glories
of Bali. Let's honour it's warriours and Kings, for sure. But
not forget its fun-loving young men and the laughing-eyed girls
who forever tease them. Let's remember, not only Garuda
- but also the beesI And for all of these, as the Kings won't have
a clue what we're on about, we will make special costumes. For the
character bits, where a haughty sneer comes in handy, well, not
to worry - they will wear a mask.
the Baris, or warrior dance evolved, with shimmering helmet, swirling
cloak and jewelled kris. The Jauk - that comic
menacing behind a pop-eyed mask. The Tambulilingan, sipping honey
from the flowers as the flits on wings of chiffon.
lastly, inspiration of the famous Mario - the Kebyar - the dance
of flame; the dancer crouching and darting around the stage
a tongue of fire.