Legong Dancing in Ubud

Legong Dancing in Ubud

We shifted north by about 45 minutes and have settled in Ubud, the arts and handicraft center of Bali.  There is such amazing talent here in all aspects of art…painting, batik, wood carving, stone carving, and so many things that are made by hand. It is also the center for many kinds of dance.In the middle of town, we could hear the haunting sounds of a gamelan orchestra playing from a covered platform that was open on all sides.  The music was pouring into the streets as the 25 or so musicians were all jamming away on their instruments.  It went on for over an hour.  Chuck says it’s just a bunch of guys drinking and pounding away on drums and percussion instruments, and guys really like banging around on stuff.  To my absolute delight, we went over to see what all the noise was and found the platform filled with a huge classroom of about 75 adorable, little girls all learning Legong, the local Balinese dance. Watching them  bend and twist their arms and tilt their heads side to side with the music registered very high on the cute meter.

The little one’s practicing for the future.

Later that night, we went to see the real Legong dancers.  The music is haunting and strange, consisting of drums and gongs, and several gamelan,  an instrument that looks like a xylophone.  The notes do not match our piano scale, and stranger still is that each note is tuned differently on each gamelan.  One player’s note is slightly sharp, another player’s is slightly flat, so when the same note is played, there is a twangy sound when the sharp and flat tones are combined.  (Sorry if I lost any of you non-musical people on that explanation), but it explains some of the strange sounds from their music.

They start young to become legong dancers.

The dancing is strange, weird, bizarre, strange, interesting, and fascinating, all in a good way!  Fingers and hands bend and twist, graceful yet bizarre, with head tilting left and right, eyes dart left and right, all timed with the accents of the music.  The dances are all part of Bali’s history and mythology combined together to tell ancient stories. 

This dancing is just amazing, beautiful, strange, exotic, and outrageous.  It was so good, we went twice.

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Monie Thompson

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