Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante in "Tigerlily and the Dragonfly". Photo: Julie Lemberger

More "From Bali to the Bronx"

BALAM’s new production, From Bali to the Bronx, brought back memories of the company’s successful Bali Tour 2010.  The spring performance at Lehman College’s Lovinger Theatre in Bronx, New York included a short video that featured excerpts from “Harlequin’s Charade”, a humorous, masked ensemble choreography created for Islene Pinder, BALAM’s founding director.  Pinder, who had not performed in over a decade, returned to the stage on the tour to celebrate this occasion and perform in the new piece.  The video showed the Balinese smiling and laughing in response to “Harlequin’s Charade”, while providing many colorful and exotic images of Bali.  (Above photo by Glen Chickering)     

In the Question & Answer session that concluded the presentation, a theatre teacher in the audience sparked a discussion about the Commedia dell’Arte Harlequin character in the piece.  Harlequin is not a stock character in the Balinese pantheon of traditional masked characters, yet the Balinese audience embraced him wholeheartedly.  The Balinese grow up seeing masked dance performances and are attuned to reading body language, movement and dance.  Because of their heightened sensitivities and Harlequin’s absolutely funny postures and attitude, these two cultures created perfect cross-cultural understanding!

Belly Dancing Used to Depict Classic Tale
Another highlight of the performance was guest belly dancer, Irina Akulenko, who was spellbinding in her role as Tilotama, the sensuous celestial nymph character taken from a story in the Mahabharata.  Akulenko as Tilotama impassioned the masked warrior brothers with undulating hips and vibrating shimmies in Toshinori Hamada’s new dance trio, “Sunda Upasunda”. This mesmerizing work was performed to a magnetic score created in Bali for the tour by the Gamelan Semara Ratih of Ubud that included Indian dance rhythms and hypnotic gong cycles, which gave the work a special trance like power.   ( 4 Photos by Julie Lemberger)

New Character and Dancer Welcomed to “Ramayana-Abduction of Sita”
BALAM’s popular signature work, “Ramayana-Abduction of Sita”, a Hindu inspired epic, featured the company’s resident guest Balinese dancer, Nani Devi, as the character Dewi Mimpi, angel of the dreams.  This character was conceived by Pinder to include Devi’s magnificent traditional Indonesian dance skills in the dance fusion of the ensemble work.  The audience luxuriated in Devi’s innate qualities of feminine softness, beauty and charm. 

Dewi Mimpi assists Prince Rama battle the greedy demon Rahwana and his accomplice, the cutting Golden Deer, who abducts and imprisons the beautiful Princess Sita. In this concert, Dianna Warren debuted with the company dancing a fusion of ballet and Balinese styles on point to perform the role of the Golden Deer.

New Male Duet Introduced for Two New Dancers
Dancers Olsi Gjeci and Atsushi Yahagi also made their debuts in the program, "From Bali to the Bronx",  with two performances of “Primordial Embers”.  In this tour de force male duet, two Balinese fire gods lift, throw, fall and body slam each other to a driving orchestral jazz score inspired by gamelan music.

Thank You Lehman College
BALAM thanks Lehman College for its continued support.  “From Bali to the Bronx” was presented as part of an annual free community event co-sponsored by the City and the Humanities and the Freshman Year Initiative at Lehman College.