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Prembon: Balinese Hybrid Drama Performance  

by on Monday, 24 September 2007No Comment | 3,388 views

Early in 20th century many new forms of dance and drama were introduced as a result of the introduction of modern elements to Balinese dance and drama. Among the successful new forms of dance and drama, Prembon is considered to be sum of all dance-drama of Bali. This new form of drama is a combination of previously separate dance and drama genres, a hybrid and composite form of Balinese dance and drama.


During the troubled 1940s, the King of Gianyar, I Dewa Manggis VIII, called together the dancer attached to his palace and asked them to create a Prembon (combination). He asked the favorite type-characters be taken from Gambuh, Baris, Arja, Topeng, and Parwa and a single story presented in which they all appeared. The clowns were taken from Topeng, while protagonist was drawn from Baris. The Princess and the lady in waiting from Arja took leading female roles, while Prabangsa from Gambuh appeared as strong Prime Minister. The story which was enacted in this performance was taken from the chronicle of Balinese Kings (Usana Bali), the Javanese Panji Story (usually a romantic prince rescuing a princess in distress) and from other Balinese manuscripts such Anjang Nirartha (the chronicle of the great priest Nirartha). The musical accompaniment of this hybrid performance was especially composed for Gong Kebyar orchestra.

This new mixture of traditional and modern elements has found favor with Balinese audiences, as well as with performers, especially in the village where there are dancers who trained in different styles and genres. Prembon makes it possible for all to contribute to the temple anniversary in a single performance.

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