February 9, 2014
Penestanan Ubud Bali
Added March 9, 2014
Portland OR USA
At some point, I’m going to need to do a presentation for the Portland Civic Theatre Guild, regarding my travel and study in Bali on the Leslie O. Fulton Fellowship, so now feels like the time to begin. Mercury is in retrograde, my dance class was shifted to 5pm and my feet are loving being up on my little table outside on my balcony after a three hour hike this morning with Newman and his friend….
First things first, reread my application to see what I wrote and promised!
Well, not quite everything came true… shadow puppetry performances were experienced in people’s homes, one with fire – traditional coconut oil burning above the head of the dalang – and one during the day as part of a home blessing ceremony. Neither were on or near a beach. However, I did indeed get to a beautiful beach.
There is a small white sand beach in the southeast of Bali, hard to get to and barely marked. It was perfect.
Nor did I dance the sacred dances in temple. I am *way* too much of a neophyte for that. I went to beautiful temples, sat in multiple celebrations with the Balinese, away from tamu (guests/tourists), and danced in the Melati Cottages wantilan during our final showcase, as well as my teacher’s studio. That will do for now, until I convert to Balinese spirituality or get another 20 years of experience under my belt. 😉
Everything else on page one of my proposal, success! And this one invites reflection, “I want to learn new art forms and find what they have in common with my previous experiences.” So…
- Balinese dance, the women’s welcoming dance I learned – Puspa Wresti – shares first position with ballet. Other than that it’s completely different. Weight placement, body tilts, the very active hip joints, and open third position that’s just different enough to make previous ballet training a hindrance. Eye choreography! I love this addition. The eyes and the hands are flourishing touches in sync with the gamelan.
- Most of the gamelan I learned was hard! Dampening the sounds 1 – 1.5 beats afterwards made my brain hurt in all sorts of great ways. Holding the steady rhythm on one of the metal drums and the multiple cymbals instrument were the only familiar rhythms I learned. The gender wayang was the most difficult instrument I learned as there are 2 hammers and dampening to be done with the sides of the hands. This is the instrument I continued learning after the Dell’Arte Abroad program finished and I stayed in Bali.
- The shadow puppet construction was very different, and therefore manipulation was very different to my previous experience. With Tears of Joy the Pinocchio shadow puppets are very loose and jointed so that head movement brings about body movement. They’re also held pretty close to the screen vertically. Balinese wayang kulit mostly have jointed arms, completely different manipulation, are held at an angle to the screen and are also beautifully painted. Sometimes they are used during daytime ceremonies so are beautiful for the gods. And for the life they live when they are brought to life by the dalang.
- The clean precise head work in topeng is necessary in all mask work I’ve seen and studied. It’s just even more precise here!
Moving forward into reflecting on my application and actual experience…
I need to start thinking about sharing my training! It was a big part of my application and I want to share it. Obviously, Fuse will receive training. Hobie Bender at Bipartisan Cafe was a supporter, so I would love to do a Q & A there, if they would like, and before I left, Louisa Serminol expressed interest in having me come to her class. Time to follow up. 🙂 And, I have been invited to be a little part of a Gilgamesh wayang kulit being created for Burning Man this summer by fellow program participants, which may lead into a longer future production…
Update: I am in the process of securing my place at Burning Man and have emailed Louisa. I’m waiting to hear back.
After this program officially ended, I had the entire month of February to continue my studies with Wayan Mardika and Gusti Ayu Rahayu as well as travel to Australia to share my solo mask show, Suburban Tribe in the Adelaide Fringe festival (which would not have been financially possible if I wasn’t already in Bali thanks to the fellowship). While in Australia I got inspiration for my next solo show, I Might Be A Mother, If I Was A Marsupial. Which pulls in one of the Balinese dances I learned, some of their culture I was exposed to, toasts the Fellowship as well as other teachers, and I will be having an informal gathering sometime the end of March that I hope some of the Guild will be able to attend.
I saved on airfare ($1300.00 a $252 savings), spent more on visa’s ($45 for the 60 day instead of $25) and didn’t even budget for local transportation. (A lot was covered by the program, but travel to ceremonies and around the island going to beaches, other temples, and healers, approximately another $50.00, was not.) Nor did I budget enough for other meals (only breakfast was included). I spent about $7/day on food: 7 x 31 = $217.00. And the program was more expensive this year, $4,175.00 (a $200 increase). I had to dip into more savings than anticipated, but it was worth it!
One great surprise that deeply benefits my health and career was being taken to a bone & muscle healer. To say, IT HURT!!!!! is an understatement, but my right knee and lower back feel better than they have in almost 15 years. And still do. My lower back has gotten some twinges, but that has more to do with integrating a new way of movement and trusting that I can let go of old compensation habits, replacing them with healthy support. I gets better every day. As well as long travel and reintegrating to Portland. 🙂