There is a story in Sukawati village that tells the origin of Parwa. In the 1885, the King of Gianyar was captured by the King of Klungkung by trickey, and at that time many members of Gianyar's royal household were sent into exile to desolate Nusa Penida, a small and inhospitable island off the Balinese coast.
Many dancers and musicians were in the group, and to pass the time they decided to present a performance. Although they had no masks or costumes at hand, they were able to devise a new kind of dramatic dance very similar in many ways to the Wayang Wong.
Realizing however that it would be impossible to portray the monkeys and ogres of the Ramayana repertoire without special equipment, the artists in exile looked to the Mahabharata for source material. This unmasked dance-drama is callled Parwa.
In the Parwa performance, the characters alternate speech with singing; nearly equal weight is given to each mode of expression.
The musical repertoire comes from the Wayang Kulit, and the dialogue is also in the wayang manner. The actors and singers are expert and absolutely fluent in Kawi and can even improvise freely in the ancient language.
In Parwa as in Legong, the eye-flicking movements (seledet) and side-to-side jerks of the head (engotan) are very prominently featured.
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