In 1962 a team of Balinese artists connected with the government High-school for Performing Arts (KOKAR) created a new dance composition, in which the Kebyar style was employed for the presentation of a lengthy dance-drama.
The story was the popular Balinese favorite Jayaprana, told in its entirety by a large company of student dancers, through gesture and pantomime. The movement used by the dancers was entirely pantomime ornamented with decorative Kebyar embellishments. The new form was called sendratari (modern dance-drama).
Audiences were very enthusiastic, both at the school where it was performed, and later in villages all over Bali.
The original creators of the genre were much influenced by the success of the Javanese Ramayana Ballet, first shown at Prambanan in Central Java in 1961. That performance had been established with government support to provide a cultural entertainment which could be understood by foreigners as well as by Indonesians from all over the Republic.
Balinese Sendratari was devised to meet the same needs. By 1978 seven different classics of Balinese traditional literature had been adapted for presentation in the Sendratari mode.
The musical structure brings together compositions several different Balinese dance traditions in a clever two-hour anthology unified by its stylistic treatment.
The colorful costumes are a modern creation, based on traditional Balinese costumes but fitted with head-dresses adapted from the shadow-puppet theatre.
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