Traditional Balinese dance is certainly visually beguiling; however, its true beauty emerges from the depth of the dancer’s sincerity in offering thanks through this dynamic movement. As an important aspect of Balinese cultural expression, many – if not most Balinese people – have danced one form of traditional dance or another at some point in their lives.
Very few, however, dedicate their lives to dance and fewer still with the unyielding enthusiasm of 77-year-old master dancer Ni Ketut Arini who continues to teach and perform to this day. It is the beauty of this dedication and enthusiasm that middle-aged photographer Yan Palapa has captured in his dynamically abstract images and compiled into a limited edition photo-book entitled “Candra Metu: Ni Ketut Arini”. The book was launched at Maya Sanur Resort and Spa, Sanur, Bali, on Saturday, 25 January.
Candra Metu means “moon rising” in Balinese and is the name of a dance created by Ni Ketut Arini’s dance teacher Nyoman Kaler. The semi-abstract images in the book focus on this particular dance as a reminder that like the moon, Ni Ketut Arini rises to shine again and again and that hopefully traditional Balinese dance will too.
The book launch event was held in appreciation for master dancer Ni Ketut Arini and included a photo exhibition, musical accompaniment by award-winning gamelan troupe “Pinda” for dance performances by Ni Ketut Arini’s young students, senior dancer Wayan Purwanto, as well as a rare performance of the Candra Metu dance by Ni Ketut Arini herself.
Attending the event were several noteworthy artists from a variety of disciplines. Art writer Jean Couteau took the stage and explained: “From a time when Denpasar was still just an amalgamation of small villages Bu Arini was already dancing her heart out, and since then hundreds if not thousands of students have been touched by her talent. Her untiring passion for this key element of Balinese culture is a real testament to the devotion that has become rare in our days. It is with great honor that I speak for many when I say: Thank you Ni Ketut Arini for your tremendous contribution to art in Bali.”
Similar events showcasing the talent and passion of this great dancer will be taking place over the coming months.
SRI RAHAYU, writer