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The Lively Kebyar Dance  

by on Monday, 29 October 2007No Comment | 2,262 views

In 1915, a new genre of Balinese Gamelan was introduced in North Bali. This new composition is called Kebyar, involving a mixture of old and new melodies with new variations syncopation, so that it forms an entirely new genre of Balinese gamelan music. And by chance in the same year a young dancer from Tabanan, I Mario, saw that the dance which was accompanied by this new composition was performed rather badly and could not keep up with intricate variations, paraphrases, cadenzas and complicated rhythmic of the new composition. And saw the possibilities of a solo dance that can be matched with the new composition.


Back in his home town in Tabanan, Mario worked out his ideas even without the help of the gamelan. The result of his arduous work was the highly demanding Kebyar dance. This is the only dance that is able to interpret the new gamelan composition in its spontaneous movements.

Kebyar dance like Baris, is a solo dance performance but more intricate, sophisticated and spontaneous sometimes it is said more subtle and intimate than Baris. In Baris the dancer dominates the gamelan, the dancer and his movements command the gamelan, while in the kebyar the dancer is dependent on the gamelan; he interprets the gamelan, as an exhibition or visualization of all the rhythms, the nuances and the mood of the melody. And once Mario himself said, that to be a good kebyar dancer, has to know how to play gamelan, and to feel its mood and character, in order to be able to interpret the music with the swirling, half sitting, half crouching movement in kebyar.


In a Kebyar Duduk dance, the dancer remains seated throughout the entire dance, he seems meditate to the music, to gather it into him. He is moved by it, drawn by it, driven by it, he has no action independently of it. The fact that the legs are never used except folded obliges unusual developments of torso, of arms, hands and especially facial expression. The harmony between facial expression and the music is a must since the mood of the music is usually interpreted by the dancers through his facial expression. The legs, folded under the body, are not entirely out of action, only functioning in a new way that is act as a kind of spring to hops round the floor on folded feet.

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Kebyar Terompong dance

From the classic Mario’s Kebyar Duduk have been derived several kebyar dance choreographies, that of the Kebyar Terompong, where the dancer, while dancing exhibits his virtuosity in playing terompong instruments. The Kebyar Teruna, a new composition from North Bali. The kebyar Subali-Sugriwa which enacts the fight of the brother monkeys, from Ramayana epic and Kebyar Tajen which the dance of fighting cocks.

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