Traditional performing arts in Bali
Bali is a small island in eastern Indonesia, located just east of the most populous island, Java. Only about 50 by 90 miles at its greatest diameters, Bali can be circumnavigated during a single day’s drive. Yet what the island lacks in size it makes up for in artistic and cultural complexity. Bali is well known for its traditional performing arts, including music, theater, and dance.
Balinese music is synonymous with gamelan — percussive musical ensembles that are created and tuned to be played together. Gamelan music provides the accompaniment for theater and dance performances and serves as an important element of Hindu religious ceremonies. Shadow puppet performances in Bali communicate the island’s religious teachings and transmit its history, culture, and philosophy. And traditional dance is at the heart of Balinese sacred ceremonies as well as its entertainment and hospitality.
The photos in this slideshow, taken in July and August of 1986, explore Bali’s rich performing arts traditions.