Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Legong, Very long and Not Long Enough (a tale in three parts)

Part I - 29th July 2006

We had seen a Legong performance in a restaurant in Sanur, but as I suspected the dancers and the whole performance was much better in Ubud. For a start the performance takes place in the Ubud Palace, which is a pretty magical setting. You enter through an ornately decorated doorway and either side of you are covered platforms with gilded red cloths hanging around the eaves. We arrived too late for seats under those, which would have been directly behind the Gamelan orchestra, but got seats right in the middle - even if it was behind some guy’s big head.

The Gamelan Orchestra begins proceedings by playing an introduction. To western ears used to different music scales, to begin with the notes that are pounded out with their arched hammers sound if anything discordant, but eventually the flute weaves in and out and your ears get used to it and at times it reaches a crescendo and speed which is reminiscent of modern dance music. Before long the music has drowned out the sounds of the howling dogs and cicadas.

The dancers enter through a central doorway. It’s hard to say what hits you first: the amazing staccato eye movements (which caused a contact lens to pop out when I tried it), the beautiful sarongs and tops wound tight to accentuate their arched backs, the delicate movements of their hands which weave patterns in the air, or the jerky yet still graceful movements.

My favourite dance of the evening was the ‘Oleg Tambulilingan’. It’s described as a ‘graceful love dance’ and the story should be fairly simple, but the English translation was a wee bit confusing. Is it a flower seducing a bumblebee? Or a bumblebee seducing a flower? Anyway they fall in love in their brightly coloured purple, red, green and gold sarongs which is entwined between her feet (recipe for falling over if you ask me) and his which trails on the ground and is waved at her every now and again like a matador enticing a bull (OK this is not creating the image of a love story, but you get the waving movement right?)

There’s a lot more in the Legong dances like guys in masks with long scary fingernails and other more complicated stories, but even reading about it in the guide book was not the same as seeing it. Unfortunately for me I also discovered that my camera was more than a wee bit limited at low light action photography. Still hope you get a bit of an idea of what I saw.


Minx said...

I'm there with you V - hope there is more?

Your title and links are still sinking to the bottom btw!

Verilion said...

But they look fine at this end??? How can this be? Maybe I'll just resave my template in a wee while and see if that sorts things out.

Verilion said...

Oh dear lord what have I done? EVERYTHING IS GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did I really need Google analytics. Aaaahhhh


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