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Cakolosal 5000: A Balinese Dance Spectacular  

by on Saturday, 30 September 2006One Comment | 2,302 views

On 29 September 2006, 5000 male and female dancers gathered at the foot of one of Bali’s most beautiful temples, Pura Tanah Lot, for an historic performance of the celebrated Kecak dance. The event take place against an ocean backdrop within sight of the dramatic island outcrop that houses Pura Tanah Lot. Organized by the mayor of Tabanan province Adi Wiryatama, the unprecedented spectacle has brought together a broad cross section of participants from the local community from a variety of professions, religious persuasions and cultural backgrounds. Over the last few months, more than 6,500 individuals, from university students to police officers to local community groups, have been taking part in practice sessions across Tabanan regency and it is expected that 5000 guests will turn up on Friday 29 September for the event.

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The Kecak, known locally simply as ‘Cak,’ is among the most stirring and dramatic of all the many types of Balinese dance. Rooted in the so-called sanghiang trance dance and drawing on elements from the Hindu epic Ramayana, it is a potent mix of theatre, music and dance. Participants wear the checkered poleng cloth, symbolic of the interplay of good and evil, while chanting “cak, cak, cak” in a circle with arms raised. Unlike most Kecak performances where the dancers are all male, for the first time in Balinese dance history, around 40% of those taking part in Cakolosal is female. The performance is being choreographed by I Gusti Ngurah Supartha, a native of Tabanan and a highly respected Kecak choreographer who has put together performances both locally and internationally. Entitled Kumbakarna-Rahwana Lina, Cakolosal depicted the kidnapping of the princess Sita by the evil demon king Rahwana, the subsequent death of his brother Kumba Karna, and then the demise of Rahwana himself.

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Traditionally involving between 75 and 100 performers, a Kecak performance on this scale is unprecedented and is likely to set a world record. According to Mr. Wiryatama, the concern is not to break a record however, but to show to the world how unified Bali’s many communities are and the enormous creative energy that exists on the island. The event is also part of a wider strategy to fully realize Tabanan’s potential as a tourist destination. Other Kecak and other performances on a smaller scale will take place on a regular basis at the newly constructed Surya Mandala Park, an ecologically sustainable space with an audience capacity of 5000 sitting and 10,000 standing.

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Featuring a state of the art lighting set up as well as a specially constructed amphitheatre for the thousands of anticipated spectators, the Cakolosal included a number of other cultural performances including comedy, music and dance, as well as an Indonesian buffet dinner and fireworks.

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