Text & Photos by Kartika D. Suardana I Ketut Maria, more famously known as I Mario, is a truly legendary dancer on the island, who was inspired by a popular performance in 1914 called Gong Kebyar. The performance greatly influenced both his emotions and imagination, resulting in the creation of a beautiful dance performance called Kebyar Duduk. He first debuted the dance, which is a bebancihan (female dance performed by man or vice versa), in 1925.

Text & Photos by Kartika D. Suardana

I Ketut Maria, more famously known as I Mario, is a truly legendary dancer on the island, who was inspired by a popular performance in 1914 called Gong Kebyar. The performance greatly influenced both his emotions and imagination, resulting in the creation of a beautiful dance performance called Kebyar Duduk. He first debuted the dance, which is a bebancihan (female dance performed by man or vice versa), in 1925.

Kebyar Duduk has a special place in my memory. The choreography is comprised of creative refinements of classical Balinese dance routines, plus additional routines and movements that are ‘out the box’. The whole performance emits a vibrant energy, and a real sense of elation is wrapped into the complexity of the routines and the difficulty of each motion. The routines are performed rapidly and swiftly, conveying the dance’s name, kebyar, meaning lightning.

My favorite place to watch this contemporary dance is at Puri Saren Ubud, a palace in the center of Ubud. Every Saturday evening a group named the Bina Remaja Troupe enlivens the palace’s stage with their talented dancers and orchestra. The Kebyar Duduk dance is one of the highlights of the evening. Wrapped around the dancer is a fabric with glittering golden patterns printed upon it, and with one hand holding a fan and the other holding the end of the wrap, he flies onto the stage. High pitch music accompanies the dancer’s lively entrance.

The other word in the dance’s name, duduk, means to sit. This too is conveyed in the dancer’s movements. The peak of the performance is when he kneels on the ground and presents to the crowd such difficult and fast motions of only the hands, eyes and head. Then, evolving into a low squatting pose, he twirls his fan quickly in his hand. The changing routines also display a range of moods: when the dancer swivels his gaze slowly, he expresses notions of flirtation and seduction, suddenly turning bashful and just as suddenly his deep stare will fix upon the audience with laser intensity, portraying his anger.!

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Kartika D. Suardana

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