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The Kebyar Dance

The characteristic part of the baris costume is ihe head-dress with its high triangle of white cloth (udeng-udengan), worn at the back of the head, and a diadem of fresh tjempaka flowers in the front, set in wires and arranged in rows, ending in spirals at each side of the head. The dancer of baris pendet wears skin-tight trousers (dial6r) and a little coat with tight sleeves (kwatji). Over his breast a scarf (umpal) is tied, and from it hang many narrow strips (Jelanti2r) of cloth overlaid with goldleaf, giving the dancer the aspect of an enormous gilt cabbage. On his back he wears a kris with gold handle. The word baris means " in line," " military formation."

Individualism is not encouraged in the essentially communal Balinese society, but from time to time the genius of an artist breaks through the conventional mould and emerges as a powerful personal influence. Some years ago a young man of humble birth startled South Bali with a new dance which combined the rugged manliness of the heroic dances (baris) with the delicacy of the legong. Its novelty consisted in the fact that the dancer never raised himself from the ground, moving only from the waist up, giving greater emphasis to the movements of the torso, arms, and hands and focusing attention on the dancer's facial expression. In using his body like a sensitive musical instrument, the young dancer interpreted even the most delicate moods of the island's finest orchestra, the gong Pangkung of Tabanan. Eventually he joined the gong Belaluan, and his fame spread to the foreign visitors on the island. The name of Mario became as well known to the world traveller as that of Mei Lan-Fang, Shan Kar, or Escudero.

At the regular weekly concerts of the Belaluan gong given at the hotel, Mario sat cross-legged in the centre of a square formed by the instruments of the orchestra. He was dressed in a long piece of brocade wrapped around his waist like a skirt, with one end trailing on the ground, and a sash of gilt cloth bound his torso. jasmine and tjempaka flowers were stuck in his small turban, and over his left ear he wore a trembling great hibiscus of hammered gold mounted on springs. In his right hand he held a brocade fan. He sat there motionless, in concentrated intensity, until at a signal from the drummers the orchestra struck a sudden crashing chord. Mario straightened like a startled cobra, tense and nervous, holding the fan over his head as if to shade his eyes. The opening theme was fast and furious. and Mario began to dance, waving his fan energetically, darting glances from side to side as if at an imaginary enemy.

The tempo increased to a frantic climax, broken suddenly by a melodious solo on the reyong. Mario relaxed and danced delicately, his expression softened, and his movements became languid. With half-closed eyes be swayed from left to right, his elbows almost touching the mat, fanning himself or deftly arranging the flowers on his bead-dress with- quivering fingers. The high keys introduced the main theme; Mario flung his train to one side and hopped on his crossed legs around the square, bobbing up and,down. In a coquettish mood be paused in front of the musicians, a smile on his face and his head jerking from side to side, finally centring his attention on the leading drummer, who,


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