On March 31st the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) St Luke's in London held another special Balinese Gamelan Concert performed by Lila Cita and Lila Bhawa Indonesian Dance UK. I was honoured to be invited along to photograph the occasion. I have been photographing Lila Bhawa since 2014 (click here to check out here the photo shoot I did with the dancers in the summer of 2015). The professional Indonesian dancers are always a joy a to watch and be around, while Lila Cita exert quality, high-energy and excitement, in which I have tried to capture in the six sets of photos below.
All following text comes from the LSO St Luke's Balinese Gamelan Concert programme.
Unlike the Western orchestra in which percussion instruments often play a supportive role, the Balinese gamelan orchestra consists almost entirely of tuned bronze gongs and metallophones. These produce a fast and dynamic music, characterised by complex interlocking melodic and rhythmic patterns, punctuated by sonorous gongs.
Gamelan Lila Cita (meaning 'amusement of the heart' or 'happiness') was founded exactly 25 years ago, in March 1992, by Andy Channing. The group has played throughout the UK and abroad, including performances at Foundation la Caixa in Barcelona, St. James's Palace, Royal Opera House and Glastonbury Festival.
Lila Bhawa Indonesian Dance UK is a London-based Indonesian dance group, specialising in classical dances of Bali and Java. The group was set up by Ni Made Pujawati in 2001 and includes a number of experienced performers, together with younger dancers who started learning dance in the UK. Lila Bhawa performed with Lila Cita at the 2006 Bali Arts Festival.
The Dance Performances
Dancers: Dewi Ariati, Saryani Asmayawati, Catherine Henryanto, Grace Higgins, Alexandra Kulanthai, Anna Leonie, Yulia Mariza Piekarska, Juli Widjajanti
This welcome dance was created in 1967 by I Gusti Gede Raka, based on the sacred Rejang dance, and reworked by I Wayan Beratha in 1970. It is usually performed at the beginning of a programme by pairs of dancers carrying bowls of flower petals. Developed from rites to honour the gods visiting a temple festival, the piece has been adapted to honour guests at a performance. The Old Javanese word sambhrama means 'to bustle around greeting guests'.
Dancer: Gabriela Cerde Martinez
Topeng Keras is one of the introductory masks in a Balinese mask drama performance. This particular mask, designed by Ida Bagus Alit, represents the great Gajah Mada, warrior and prime minister (mahapatoh), whose heroism, skill and determination united Nusantara and established the Majapahit Empire in the 14th century. The dance should demonstrate this power, pride and intelligence.
Dancers: Ni Made Pujawati, Marselin E. Binstead, Anit Nainggolan, Diana Farisah Rahman, Shealla Withers
Manuk Rawa, created in 1982 by I Wayan Dibia with music by I Wayan Beratha, depicts a flock of waterbirds frolicking in a tranquil forest lake. Movements combine traditional Balinese with those from a West Javanese peacock dance, as well as ballet. This dance was originally part of a larger Mahabharata dance drama called Bale Gala-Gala and was the inspiration for the later bird dances.
Dancer: Gabriela Cerda Martinez
A jauk is a masked dancer depicting a demon. He wears a characteristic stupa-shaped conical head-dress, a mask with large bulging eyes and white gloves with long fingernails which symbolise potent magic. Jauk Manis, or 'sweet jauk', has a refined character with a white face. Although usually performed as a solo dance these days, it is historically associated with the Barong exorcism dance drama.