World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival

FESTIVAL DANCERS

Gamelan Sekar Jaya

NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Bali, Indonesia
DIRECTOR: Emiko Susilo Saraswati
First appearance in SF EDF: 1980
Website: www.gsj.org

Gamelan Sekar Jaya is a Bay Area company specializing in Balinese music and dance. Founded in 1979, GSJ has performed internationally—from New York’s Symphony Space, to the Hollywood Bowl, to remote Balinese villages. The only group outside of Indonesia to receive the Dharma Kusuma, Bali’s highest award for artistic achievement, GSJ is renowned for its exploration of traditional and modern forms through long-term residencies with Bali’s finest artists. Its mission is to foster artistic exchange between Bali and the US through residencies, workshops, performances, and the creation of innovative new works; and to share the excitement of this exchange.

2016 PERFORMANCE

DANCE ORIGIN: North Bali, Indonesia
GENRE: Classical North Balinese Kebyar Dance
TITLE: Pudak Sinunggal
DIRECTOR: Emiko Saraswati Susilo
CHOREOGRAPHER: Bapak Sindu; reconstruction by Bapak Keranca
GUEST DANCE DIRECTOR: Bapak I Made Keranca
GUEST MUSIC DIRECTOR: Ida Bagus Made Widnyana
DANCERS: Gamelan Sekar Jaya company dancers under the direction of Guest Dance Director I Made Keranca
MUSICIANS: David Aue, Lani Arofah, Phil Cox, Austin De Rubira, Bea Deering, Tom Deering (gong kebyar coordinator), Sara Gambina-Belknap, Todd Greenspan, Vanessa Harris, Steve Johnson, I Made Keranca, Clarence Magno, Lauren Miller, Rick Phillips, I Made Putrayasa, Anya Rome, Bruce Salvisberg, Peter Steele, Ida Bagus Made Widnyana, Rob Wilkins

Photo by RJ Muna

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Pudak Sinunggal is named for the mystically fragrant pudak flower mentioned in early Indonesian poetic texts. “Sinunggal” means “solo” or “standing alone.” In this presentation, a group of women dance in the androgynous bebancihan style, with a wide stance—shoulders held high and body kept taught—creating an image of masculine power.

Over centuries, Indonesian dance and music co-evolved inseparably. Dancers merge with music, seeking unity in every gesture, nuance, expression, phrase, and rhythmic change. A fluttering hand mirrors a rapid musical figuration; when a deep gong sounds, a glance falls. Movements derive from nature—the swaying of a tree, opening of a flower, bathing of a bird in a pool. Dancers also portray archetypal Balinese characters who are halus (refined) or kasar (coarse), or something in between.

Balinese dance has long been central to sacred activities at temples and springs, and today’s secular concerts also include dancers. The art is learned through direct transfer, a master teacher conveying everything through kinetic sensation. Adjusting a posture perfects a movement; a smile conveys gentleness; a fiery glance demands an aggressive move. Teachers sing gong strokes, drum accents, and melodies—fusing musical connections in the dancer’s mind and body. With a deep understanding of musical forms, a dancer’s movements cue musicians to begin, change pace, or create musical accents.

The music is from a kebyar-style gamelan, a gong orchestra with a great number and diverse tuning of gongs—created in the village of Menyali in the 1940’s, in Northern Bali. Virtuoso musicians play unbelievably fast, hitting between each other’s beats, while the low kebyar gong sustains musical structure. Pudak Sinunggal, created by Bapak Putu Kota (music) and Bapak Sindu (dance), also first appeared in 1940’s Menyali. It was reconstructed by renowned kebyar master Bapak I Made Keranca in 2014, with artistic support from Çudamani, taught to Gamelan Sekar Jaya Guest Dance Director Ni Luh Andarawati, and set for our stage. Guest Music Director Ida Bagus Made Widnyana leads the 20 musician ensemble.

The costume shows the pudak flower’s palm frond shape in the headdress and bodice, and traditional bebancihan short pants and pleated over-skirt allow for the wide plié stance of the androgynous form.

2013 PERFORMANCE

DANCE ORIGIN: Bali, Indonesia
GENRE: Traditional
TITLE: Tari Gabor
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Emiko Susilo Saraswati
CHOREOGRAPHY: I Wayan Beratha, I Gusti Raka, Arranged By: Ni Luh Andarawati, Ni Ketut Arini
DANCERS: Ni Luh Andarawati, Anna Deering, Nina Herlina, Susan Lamberth, Rose Nisker
MUSICIANS: Sara Gambina-Belknap, Phil Cox, Matthew Gleeson, Evan Gilman, Keenan Pepper, I Made Subandi (Guest Music Director), Paddy Sandino, Wayne Vitale, Sarah Willner

Tari Gabor is a modern arrangement of traditional offering dances from a Balinese temple—known as ceremonial rejang—that are performed by women as community devotion. In the temple courtyard, dancers gracefully waft incense; others dance backwards through the temple gate, welcoming holy water brought from a sacred spring. This dance is a prayer, and it is also presented in secular contexts, as an opening dance of welcome and goodwill to you, the honored guests.

In all Balinese performance, the dance and music is tightly coordinated, as performers seek perfect unity with each other in gesture, nuance, expression, phrase, and rhythmic change. With amazing in-the-moment speed, dancers cue musicians to start and stop, speed up, or accent beats. Dancers also respond intuitively to the gamelan music: a fluttering hand mirrors a rapid musical figuration, or an eye movement falls with a deep gong tone.

Some Indonesian dance movements are based on sacred mudra hand gestures, but far more derive from nature—the swaying of trees, the flitting of a lizard, the quick movements of deer. Also, a dancer’s skill often lies in portraying a character from an archetypal Balinese story. This complex form must be learned directly from master performers, through kinesthetic transmission of subtle movement, sensation, and physical energy.

In Tari Gabor, dancers wear headdresses of golden flowers and traditional batik textiles, evoking an ancient and deep respect for nature. This ceremony is traditionally danced to a bronze gamelan, but today’s light-hearted and joyful music—arranged by Guest Music Director I Dewa Putu Berata—is played on the gamelan rindik: tuned bamboo (grantang) tubes, end-blown bamboo flute, and percussion. Musicians on grantang play core melodies with left hands and interlocking figurations with the right.

This dance was created in 1969 by I Gusti Raka and revised by I Wayan Beratha in 1970. Ni Luh Andarawati set the piece for Gamelan Sekar Jaya with additional arrangements by Ni Ketut Arini. All Sekar Jaya dancers are encouraged to learn this dance as a core piece of traditional temple offering Balinese dancers perform.

2012 PERFORMANCE

TITLES:
Lambang to Bungur (Pusaka Sunda)
Bulan Tumanggal (Pusaka Sunda)
Legong Somia (Gamelan Sekar Jaya)
Kelanguan (Gamelan Sekar Jaya)
Tari Merak / Tari Topeng Rahwana (Pusaka Sunda)
Kerjasama (Pak Burhan Sukarma and Pak Dewa Berata)
Gagak Lumayung (Pusaka Sunda)
Tari Legong Pengeleb (Gamelan Sekar Jaya)
Sangkala (Pusaka Sunda)
And the world premiere of: Bayangan Jiwa (“the spirit’s image” or “the imagination of the spirit”) a work for dance, shadow, semarandana, and gender wayang. The piece by Dewa Berata and Emiko Saraswati Susilo investigates how childlike playfulness, physical and spiritual training, and divine inspiration come together in the body and spirit of dancers and musicians as the soul searches for a connection to its eternal self. The piece draws from a rich and dynamic repertoire of movement that explores the wide range of human characters—feminine and masculine, lyrical and powerful—each distinct and unique and yet deeply connected to one another.

GAMELAN SEKAR JAYA PERFORMERS: Ni Luh Andarawati, Sean Aquino, David Aue (Gong Kebyar Coordinator), Dan Bales, Brian Baumbusch, Tim Black, Alexis Brayton, Clive Brown, Lauren Buckley-Miller, Marianna Cherry, Phil Cox, Anna Deering, Bea Deering, Tom Deering, Carla Fabrizio (Assisting Teacher), Sara Gambina-Belknap, (GSJ General Manager), Ed Garcia (Angklung Coordinator), Gregory Ghent, Darren Gibbs, Evan Gilman (Vice President), Matt Gleeson, Lisa Gold (Gender Wayang Coordinator), Barbara Golden, Lisa Graciano, Todd Greenspan (Treasurer), Reiko Hasegawa, Zachary Hejny, Nina Herlina, Andrej Hronco (Gong Kebyar Coordinator), Steve Johnson (Angklung Coordinator), Colum Keelaghan, Susan Lamberth (Dance Coordinator), Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti, Debbie Lloyd, Lydia Martín, Paul Miller, Mudita Nisker (Member-at-large), Rose Nisker (President), Keenan Pepper, Ellen Perlman (Secretary), I Made Putrayasa, Dewa Putu Berata (Guest Music Director), Emily Rolph, Paddy Sandino (Member-at-Large), Dewa Gde Sanjaya, Emiko Saraswati Susilo (Director, Guest Dance Director), Monali Varaiya (Secretary, Semaradana Volunteer Coordinator), Nia Vitale, Wayne Vitale (Assisting Teacher), Sarah Willner, Kim Workman, Rotrease Yates
PUSAKA SUNDA PERFORMERS:
Ed Garcia, Ika, Daniel Kelley, Danni Redding Lapuz, Ray Lapuz, Margot Lederer Prado, Gretchen McPherson, Kenneth
Miller, Rieri Ramdani, Olivia Sears, Henry Spiller, Rae Ann Stahl, Ariana Suchranudin, Burhan Sukarma

This performance is a joyful coming together of two excellent and well-established Bay Area gamelan* ensembles. Gamelan Sekar Jaya and Pusaka Sunda present new and traditional works for Balinese gamelan semarandana, angklung, gender wayang & dance, and Sundanese gamelan degung and dance.

About Pusaka Sunda:
Burhan Sukarma was born and raised in the West Javanese city of Karawang. In the 1970s and 1980s, he became one of the most influential Sundanese musicians of his generation, and quite literally set the standard for the generations of suling players that followed him. In 1988, Burhan relocated permanently to San Jose, California, where he encountered a small group of American musicians who were interested in Sundaneseperforming arts. With the help of Rae Ann Stahl, he began to coalesce a performing gamelan group to bring to fruition the many ideas he had for adapting, rearranging, and recomposing the materials of traditional Sundanese music. He named the group Pusaka Sunda (“Sundanese heirloom”) to emphasize his vision of the group as both a continuation of Sundanese tradition and as a symbol of his own Sundanese identity in a new country.

2011 PERFORMANCE

GSJTITLE: Teruna Jaya (Victorious Youth)
GENRE: Kebyar
COMPOSER/ARRANGER: I Gede Manik
GUEST DANCE TEACHER:
Ni Luh Andarawati
GUEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR:
I Made Arnawa
DANCERS:
Ni Luh Andarawati, Nina Herlina, Maria Omo
MUSICIANS:
David Aue, Alexis Brayton, Phil Cox, Tom Deering, Bea Deering, Carla Fabrizio, Sara Gambina-Belknap, Ed Garcia, Evan Gilman, Matthew Gleeson, Lisa Gold, Todd Greenspan, Maddie Hogan, Andrej Hronco, Steve Johnson, Debbie Lloyd, Lydia Martin, Mudita Nisker, Keenan Pepper, Ellen Perlman, Emily Rolph, Joseph Paddy Sandino, Ansel Schmidt (gong coordinator), Wayne Vitale (assistant teacher), Sarah Willner, Ben Zadan

Classical Balinese dance has three genders: male, female, and—honoring human complexity—androgynous. Teruna Jaya—Victorious Youth, is a beloved masterpiece in the androgynous bebancihan style. Three female dancers depict a volatile and moody character: a young man going through puberty. The piece was created in the 1950s by Gede Manik from North Bali. The character quickly became popular, regions adapted the dance, and it became a virtuosic piece. Putting on the costume takes about two hours, with layers of gold-painted cloth, leather, and male make-up. The headdress is a masculine style, as is the
loose-fitting kamben sarong.

The Indonesian gamelan orchestra has bronze, iron, wood, and/or bamboo percussion instruments, and from two to thirty players. Today’s performance is drawn from the villages of Pengosekan and Pegosek in South Central Bali, areas known for intricate drumming and dance. The musicians are said to marry their instruments and fellow performers: and the performers communicate intimately in every nuance of movement and sound, rhythm, tempo, and emotion. The musicians play as fast as they can, between each others’ beats, while the low-toned kebyar gong outlines the structure.

Several teachers worked with Gamelan Sekar Jaya to bring this piece to the stage, primarily: Ni Luh Andarawati, beloved teacher and featured soloist; I Made Arnawa, internationally revered composer and spiritual leader; I Dewa Putu Berata, renowned performer and teacher; and I Ketut Wirtawan, renowned Balinese dancer, musician, vocalist, puppeteer, painter, and master of the complicated dance-drama form, gambuh.

Thanks to Bali Advisor (www.BaliAdvisor.com) and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts for their support in making this piece possible.

2009 PERFORMANCE

Title: Subak
Choreographer
:
I Made Moja
Guest Dance Director
:
Emiko Sarawati Susilo
Composer
:
I Dewa Putu Berata
Jegog Ensemble Coordinators
:
Kathy Bouvier and Samuel Wantman
Dancers
:
Sean Aquino, Anna Deering, Nina Herlina, Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti, I Made Moja, Rose Nisker, Maria Omo, Gayatri Saldivar, Emiko Sarawati Susilo, Samara Lotri Tana
Musicians
:
Dan Bales, Scott Barnes, I Dewa Putu Berata, Susanna Benningfield, , Kathy Bouvier, Alexis Brayton, Phil Cox, Matthew Gleeson, Barbara Golden, Diana Graue, John Noble, Laurel Pardue, Heather Sansky, Monina Sen, Samuel Wantman, Kwan Wong

The dance Subak is a new work by I Made Moja, inspired by and in honor of Goddess Dewi Sri Laksmi, goddess of rice harvest and fertility. The dancers mimic digging trenches to branch water routes through fields; they till the soil and plant rice shoots. Then they hold a ceremony for abundance, carrying an image of Dewi Sri Laksmi to the jineng, the traditional home granary. In Bali-Hindu culture, cycles of life and seasons are honored in ritual and offerings. Balinese dance also abstracts movements from the natural world. This choreography includes lasan megat yeh (lizard crossing water); ngelo (bird soaring); ukel (the shape of a young fern); as well as various evocations of grasses, trees, or palm fronds swaying in the breeze. Water is suggested obliquely, as dancers mimic birds that see their reflections in the shallow water of the paddies.


 

2005 PERFORMANCE

Gamelan 

Sekar JayaTITLE OF PIECE: KALI YUGA
GUEST MUSIC DIRECTOR:
I Made Terip
GUEST DIRECTOR:
Ellen Sebastian Chang
GUEST CHOREOGRAPHER:
I Ketut Rina
POET/LIBRETTIST:
Goenawan Mohamad
GUEST PERFORMERS:
Ni Ketut Arini, I Wayan Budiarsa
PERFORMERS:
Ni Luh Estiti Andarawati, Avi Black, Kathryn Bodle, Dudley Brooks, Anna Deering, Bea Deering, Laura Deering, Tom Deering, Sonja Downing, Todd Greenspan, Jim Hogan, Maddie Hogan, Steve Johnson, Colum Keelaghan, Evan LaForge, Debbie Lloyd, I Made Moja, Mudita Nisker, I Made Putrayasa, Nicci Reisnour, Mark Salvatore, Jon Skelton, Molly Smart, Ketut Suardana, Christina Sunardi, Alice Terry, Wayne Vitale, Sarah Willner Kwan Wong.

Kali Yuga, which refers to the cycle of decay and dissolution as outlined in the Hindu epic, the Bagawad Gita, is a tribute to the victims of Bali's tragic nightclub bombing in 2002. This catastrophe transformed Bali's international image from an idyllic cultural mecca and tourist destination to a locus of international terrorism. It catapulted Bali into a state of disaster and vulnerability, while simultaneously spawning a process of societal soul-searching.

Gamelan Sekar Jaya's Kali Yuga is an intensive artistic response to this destructive event. It is a contemplative journey and a cross-cultural questioning led by Bali's most revered artists. Poet and librettist, Goenawan Mohamad, banned under the Suharto regime, has become one of Indonesia's leading intellectual critics. Choreographer I Ketut Rina, one of Bali's most innovative, is joined by the celebrated gamelan leader and composer, I Made Terip, along with leading dancers Ni Ketut Arini and I Wayan Budiarsa.

The 2005 Festival offering, Kali Yuga, is a work-in-progress excerpt of an evening-length dance drama to be premiered in 2006. Involving an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural team of world-class artists, this multi-year creative process and production is supported by the National Dance Project and other funders.

2004 PERFORMANCE

Gamelan Sekar 

JayaTITLE OF PIECES: Tari Nelayan (Fisherman's dance), Joged Bumbung (Flirtation dance)
GUEST MUSIC DIRECTOR:
I Nyoman Windha
GUEST DANCE DIRECTOR:
I Gusti Agung Ayu Warsiki
DANCERS:
Avi Black, Kompiang Metri-Davies (Saturday), I Made Moja, I Gusti Agung Ayu Warsiki, I Wayan Leger, and Rotrease Yates (Sunday)
MUSICIANS:
Susanna Miller Benningfield, Kathy Bouvier, Dudley Brooks, Valerie Harris, Lars Jensen, Heather Sansky, Michael Steadman, Wayne Vitale, Samuel Wantman, I Nyoman Windha, and Kwan Wong.

The Gamelan Joged, presented in the 2004 Festival, features instruments made of bamboo which come out of a folk tradition, rather than the bronze instruments which accompany the more typically seen religious and court dances. The Gamelan Joged is often performed at parties, festivals, harvest celebrations and political gatherings.

The two pieces performed in the Festival each come from a rich secular tradition. The first, Tari Nelayan, or, Fisherman's Dance, is one of the few Balinese dances that focus on the sea. It depicts scenes of a group of fisherman, yet its deeper meaning celebrates community spirit and the earth's bounties. In Bali, the Hindu god Vishnu is the symbol of water. It is believed that the sea cleanses the earth. This particular piece first written in the 1960s during a politically tumultuous time in Indonesia's history, is one of few that was composed with a political agenda. The words and movements encourage socialist politics as they allude to the cooperative efforts of workers.

The second piece, Joged Bumbung, translated as Flirtation Dance, comes from a more obscure improvised tradition popular in northern and western Bali. It is an overtly flirtatious dance typically performed at parties. Through mockery and humor, female dancers entice male audience members to dance with them while simultaneously snubbing their advances. The often-untrained audience members are left to sink or swim. These pieces were adapted for the Festival stage by guest dance director, I Gusti Agung Ayu Warsiki, and guest music director, I Nyoman Windha.

Back to top