Calonarang dance-drama, crated about 1890 in the Batubulan area of Gianyar Province. Like other Balinese creators, the makers of Calonarang drew from a general cultural pool of pre-established materials.
Composition was a process of assembly and arrangement of inherited or given motifs and motifemes (atomic units of action). In common also with other performance varieties, the new form exhibits elements drawn from a wide variety of sources within Balinese culture, some of them belonging specifically to 'the dance', while others are drawn from far and wide in the heritage.
At the heart of the new creation is (as is so often the case in Balinese-dance), an attempts to rework a wali elements in term of classical Hindu-Balinese style and conventions.
The Calonarang dance-drama attempts to provide a frame in performance for the Rangda. A crucial difference is that the god head manifesting in the mask cannot be contained by any human agency, for Rangda cannot be fully tamed.
The places of the performance are the graveyard and the crossroad. Two areas that are home to buta, at the kelod (south) of the sacred geographical orientation. The stage area itself is similar to the kalangan (traditional stage) set up in temples. It is perhaps 18 feet wide and 30 feet deep.
The five-toned gamelan Semar Pegulingan is set up to one side. The special features of the Calonarang stage include a small temporary sanggah (shrine), made of bamboo, which is placed in the corner. It is said that people who like to become leyak pray at such a shrine before going out to make the transformation.
The kalangan is also furnished with a small papaya tree, symbol of the great Kepuh tree which grows in nearly every Balinese graveyard.
The crossroad itself is usually shaded by a great Banyan tree, symbolic of shelter. The play begins with a series of pengelembar (introductory series of masks performance). Very often the Barong Ket from the local banjar will dance. Perhaps three different pairs will animate the great beast, demonstrating their virtuosity.
Here the Barong's followers play no role, and the skill of the dancing is an important concern. Then a Baris dancer may perform, if one is available, followed by a Jauk and a telek, each dances a fifteen-minute solo in modern style.
The play itself begins with the appearance of the Condong, who in this drama is usually portrayed by a man.
The Calonarang dance-drama was formerly a specific remedy against evil sorcery, and the play, like Wayang Calonarang (the shadow puppets one) can still be applied to this purpose.
In this respect, the Calonarang repertoire is quite distinct from ceremonies to chase or propitiate the buta, who are natural demons.
It would be preposterous to cleanse a graveyard of buta, for such beings can never be destroyed, but only displaced.
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