The Bali arts scene is bursting at the seams this month as 15,000 artists showcase their unique talents in the form of dance, music crafts and more at the Bali Arts Festival. Running through July 13, the festival features daily performances in Denpasar’s Bali Arts Centre by traditional Balinese artists collaborating with their counterparts from India, Japan, Korea, Timor-Leste, the U.K., several European countries and the U.S.
The festival, with this year’s theme of “Taksu” (which means “inner power”), kicked off on June 15 with an opening at Niti Mandala Park in Renon from the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and a street parade of thousands of performers dressed in ornate Balinese costumes.
The theme of “Taksu” reflects traditional Indonesian wisdom and inner knowledge with traditional arts instead of modern contemporary arts (which have been the focus in the past). Many unique regional dances will be featured, including the reconstructed Leko classical dance normally only performed in the Tabanan and Jembrana regencies of West Bali. Originally performed at the palace to entertain the king, it is a flirtation that involves pairs of female dancers and audience participation. For traditional ballet lovers, Sakuni Raja Winaya will be performed by Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan Negeri 3, of Sukawati Gianyar Regency.
After taking in the art, visit the festival’s food exhibition for hundreds of stations with traditional local dishes. Try the babi guling, a whole sucking pig stuffed with spice paste, vegetables and cassava leaf rolled over charcoal, or the jajan bantal, sticky rice, peas and fruit all wrapped in coconut leaf, tied with rope and steamed.
Moving on from food, hundreds of local artisans will participate in the month-long festival, exhibiting traditional handicrafts, such as hand-carved wooden komodo dragons and silverware. Stop off to get your own piece of authentic Balinese art.
Photos courtesy of David Metcalf and www.davidmetcalfphotography.com