Modern Baris Dance

Balinese dance is an aspect of Balinese culture that undergoes many changes and gets many influences from various sources. These changes and influences create add a new flavor to the established genre of Balinese traditional dance. An example of a traditional dance genre that gets many changes and influences from various source is the Baris (warrior dance).

The changes and influences give birth to what is called Modern Baris. Modern Baris at first introduced in solo Baris performance, a new development of classic Baris Gede. It is not clear when or where the first modern variations on the old Baris Gede was introduced, but they seem to be an early twentieth century development.

The modern Baris dance is performed by a soloist, for some fifteen minutes, accompanied by gamelan gong. The dancer wears a distinctive costume based on that of Baris Gede, with its shimmering pointed helmet. The basic movements have also been taken from the older dance, but have been refined and embellished in considerable degree.

Some time after the Modern Baris appeared as pure dance solo, some choreographers from Gianyar Regency inserted a storytelling aspect to create a story-telling dance by adding popular new characters to the solo Baris. Thus, the Baris Melampahan (Story Baris) came into being, employing palys based on stories from the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics.

A Baris Melampahan performance is often preceded by a series of introductory solo Baris dance. Two penasars (clown-interpreter), Punta and Kartala, always appear. They speak for their master who although unmasked never speak or sing. The Baris communicate by gesture alone. He may speak to Punta in Kawi (old literary language), for example, by gesturing at him while Kartala provides the sound, just as if he was dubbing a foreign film. The Punta will explain what has been said to him in Balinese, so that audience can understand.

Other innovations will popped up, enriching the Balinese dance repertoire.

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