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  Performing Art

With over 100 troupes on the island, dance is at the very center of Balinese life and will probably be the most impressive thing you'll see and remember.

In all, there are over 200 kinds of dances, though only around 20 are performed regularly, many still religious and each a composite of not only dance but also drama, music, spoken poetry, opera, and song.

There are frog dances, monkey dances, bumblebee dances, epic ballets, martial dances, dances for choosing a mate, and dances to exorcise evil spirits.

Dances are roughly divided into those of Hindu origin and those of animist, Old Indonesian derivation, which are usually performed in the innermost courtyard (jeroan) of the temple.

In the classical Hindus dances, invariably there's a princess to rescue or a kingdom to conquer. Some are danced only by women, others only by men. Each is performed in many different styles, depending on the locale and artistic influence.

For the most part, dance and dance-dramas have come down to us remarkably well preserved because it's an art form zealously supported and well cultivated by the community.

Old plays, completely rearranged and with recast choreography, are periodically revived by the Balinese and staged at the island-wide Denpasar Arts Festival.

Although Westerners lament that Bali's arts have suffered from the flood of tourism - not to mention TV, video, Hollywood films, and B-grade kung fu movies - the arrival of tourists has actually preserved, fortified, and revitalized the island's performing arts.

Again, the Balinese have shown themselves to be dynamically resilient.


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