ONE must never leave Bali without learning about their dances and their tales. Having tourism to a craft of sorts, it’s not that hard, really. For one, you can just ride on to Jalan Earibang Kesiman in Denpasar and watch the Barong and Kris Dance for roughly P500 a person (100,000 Indonesian rupiah).
Just sit and watch, and follow the story through the English synopsis that is handed to you upon entrance. The show takes around an hour.
As the flyer explains, Barong is the magical protector of Balinese villages.
It’s the lord of the forest and is shown as a critter with fanged mask and long mane.
The kontrabida is Rangda, the witch.
The never-ending battle between Barong and Rangda (good and eivil) is the topic of many a tale in Bali.
In the Kris dance, Barong’s supporters are a group of Balinese men who can enter a trance state. Rangda’s power, however, is stronger than them and they are knocked out. Upon waking up, they’d despair and try to impale themselves with their kris.
The impaling part can be disconcerting. No, there’s no blood. Just men holding steel knives and trying to embed these on their bodies as the play ends.
Watching the production and seeing the characters in the play, I couldn’t help but sigh in woe, however, in knowing that in Mindanao alone we already have more fascinating tales and mythical characters.
How wonderful it is to know about Agyo and his flying shield, and how Imbuinguna can invoke the whirlwind and windstorm to carry away an army of men, plus a lot of other characters who can put all The Avengers character to shame for their power and sheer magnificence. But then, that’s yet wishful thinking.
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