“Mostly Nearly Authentic”

The real thing; NOT taken from tonight's performance.

Well, this evening L and I went to see the Balinese performance and were both immensely disappointed. For starters, it turns out the listing for the show was quite misleading as it was not at all an authentic affair, which came as a huge disappointment and is very strange, considering the event was held at the museum of fine arts, from which one would expect a certain level of excellence. Out of 20 musician, only one was a confirmed Balinese, and maybe one other was (presumably) Indonesian, while all the others were very much local white-as-chalk French Canadian. There were 4 dancers, three of which were from some Asian descent and reasonably good (one had the most amazing hand gestures), while the other a very very tall, very blue-eyed, blonde French woman. The acoustics were not at all right for that kind of music, which sounded like a bunch of loud noise made by countless out of synch percussion instruments, with plenty of cymbals and clanging. When the French dancer came out and did a solo dance in the full Balinese attire, the whole thing just seemed completely incongruous. She was much too tall and all the facial and eye expressions she made just seemed totally ridiculous. The worst part was that she seemed to do a pretty good job of the actual dancing, but it just didn’t come off right at all. Then, to top it all off, one of the troupe’s very nervous members gave not one, but TWO very long, very boring, very inept speeches, mostly in French, which added nothing whatsoever to the performance. He asked the audience to stay after the last dance as the group had apparently prepared “a surprise” for us, and already at that point, I could tell most of the audience wanted to leave, and we were only half an hour into the hour-long affair! And a very long hour it was too. At least the costumes looked good. A couple next to me did leave right before the “surprise” was sprung on us. In one of the two speeches, the so-called presenter actually said that “this show is mostly nearly an authentic Balinese experience”, which made me groan with discouragement. In other words, a major dud. L was especially upset because she felt responsible, since she was the one who had picked out this show for us, but as I said to her, how were we to know we would have this mockery foisted upon us? At least I got to spend some time with my new friend. That was the best part really, along with a simple dinner we had afterward at the Holt Renfrew café. I still hear the clanging noises in my head and just might have nightmares about it. *Big Shudder*

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4 thoughts on ““Mostly Nearly Authentic”

  1. since nothing bonds better than shared horror, i guess this was mostly nearly a very worthwhile event for the both of you galls
    xxx mlou

    • Oh darling, I’d agree with you, except it really broke my heart seeing the disappointment on my friend’s face. All the same, the show will stay in my memory as some kind of farce.

    • Well, I had to look it up because I wouldn’t quite have known how to describe it; though I’ve found the following on one site describing various Balinese dances:

      The Kecak is an unusual Balinese dance for a couple of reasons. First, there is no musical accompaniment. The gamelan is not there. Rhythm is provided by a chanting ‘monkey’ chorus. The polyrhythmic sound of the chanting provides the name, ‘Ke-chak’.

      Wikipedia describes Kecak this way: Kecak (pronounced [ˈketʃaʔ], alternate spellings: Ketjak and Ketjack) is a form of Balinese dance and music drama, originated in the 1930s Bali and is performed primarily by men, although a few women’s kecak groups exist. Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of 150 or more performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting “cak” and throwing up their arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana where the monkey-like Vanara helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. However, Kecak has roots in sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.

      There were not 150 dancers, as the troupe was roughly 25-strong and thank god for that because they created enough cacophony as it was. It just seemed to go on forever and ever. Every time you thought they were done, they’d start up again. People in the audience did not seem amused in the least. I’m sure it’s impressive seen as it’s meant to be performed, but seeing a bunch of white boys and gals doing it—and let’s not forget the token Balinese young man who was leading them—was just… oy.

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