In Bali, we also have musical dramas, a combination of dance and theatrical performance that also contains dialog in the Balinese language. The performance is called Sendratari, which is actually an abbreviation of Seni, Drama and Tari which translates to English as “art, theater and dance”. Sendratari is an all Balinese favorite. It is both entertaining as well as heavy with information, social concept, moral value, and social critics.
It was I Wayan Beratha who created the first Sendratari in Bali in 1962. The gentleman from the Buleleng Regency created a neat configuration of dance and theatrical performances as a way to tell a folklore known as the saga of Jayaprana. It is a touching legend about two lovebirds, I Nyoman Jayaprana and Ni Nyoman Layonsari. The King of Kalianget, was stunned by Layonsari’s beauty on her wedding day and made a devious plan to kill her husband Jayaprana so he could marry Layonsari. When the news about the death of Jayaprana reached his wife, Layonsari decided to end her life. She decided she would rather die than to be touched by the King who made the devious plan to kill her husband. Their tragic love story is a legend passed from one generation to another.
In 1965, Beratha’s newest creation, Sendratari Ramayana made headlines. The colossal performance involving dozens of dancers and musicians resonated and was performed from village to village, making the performance known island-wide. Even now, Sendratari Ramayana is still the pinnacle performance of Bali’s cultural offerings.
Just like other art performances of Bali, music plays an important role in building ambiance to strengthen the story telling. Sendratari used to use two types of Gamelan orchestra, which are Gamelan Gong Gede and Semar Pegulingan. The maestro came up with an innovative idea to compose a new formation of gamelan orchestra that he named Gong Smara Dhana.
The maestro had set a path for today’s generation to let their inner creativity burst and has left plenty of creative space to be filled with more creative art performances. Nowadays, there are dozens of folklore, legends, and epics that are being told through Sendratari performances. Sometimes the same story is told in many different styles of choreography and so on. It is a never-ending list of new Sendratari on the island.
Bali Art Festival 2018 is on from 23rd June to 21st July. Take part in promoting the continuance of Bali’s unique culture and tradition by enjoying various art performances from Bali at Bali’s Art Centre in Denpasar. You can be sure to find Sendratari scheduled for performance here.
Note: No entry charge is applicable for all performances during Bali Art Festival.