Students perform Gamelan music. Photo by Dan Vaillancourt
The Holy Cross departments of theatre and music present their famed Balinese gamelan orchestra, Gamelan Gita Sari, under the directorship of visiting fellow in Balinese performing arts Suasthi Bandem, in concert on December 6 at 8 p.m. in the Brooks Concert Hall. These semi-annual concerts, free and open to the public, are routinely standing room only and provide for a thrilling evening of Balinese music and dance. Special guest artists will include I Made Bandem, Ida Ayu Ari Candrawati, Putu Bagus Krisna Saptanyana, and Kadek Bayu Saptanyana.
The concert will begin with “Tabuh Blaganjur,” followed by feature pieces from the classical repertoire, including the “Pendet,” a welcoming dance; the “Baris,” an important ritual dance, known as the warrior-drill dance and choreographed by I Made Bandem; and the “Topeng Tua,” which is accompanied by the piece “Tabuh Telu” and performed by professor of theatre Lynn Kramer. The show will also feature the “Cak Dance,” a new form of dance sometimes referred to as the “Monkey Dance.”
Gamelan Gita Sari was founded in 1999. Gita Sari translates as “the essence of song.” The company is composed entirely of students and faculty from the College. The group performs on its Gong Kebyar gamelan, built for Holy Cross in 1998 by master Balinese craftsman Pande Made Sukerta. Following a blessing ceremony in Mengwitani, the gamelan was shipped to Massachusetts, where a second blessing ceremony was conducted in July 1999. This coincided with a Henry Luce Foundation Grant Holy Cross was awarded to fund a Balinese scholar-artist-in-residence for four years.
In addition to holding two concerts a year at Holy Cross, Gamelan Gita Sari has performed at Brown University and Wesleyan University, as well as for the New Hampshire Humanities Council and the conference “Continuities and Change: A Celebration of Balinese Music, Theatre and Dance” hosted by Holy Cross. Members of the ensemble have played and danced at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bard College.
Suasthi Bandem received a B.A. from Indonesian Dance Academy in Denpasar, Strata 1 in dance from Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta, and her Magister and Ph.D. in Performing Art Study from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. Since 1984, she has been a faculty member at the Indonesian Dance Academy and has taught at UCLA and Wesleyan University. She is the founder of the Makaradhwaja Performing Arts Group. As an accomplished dancer and choreographer, Suasthi has performed throughout Europe, North American, Latin America, Australia, Zimbabwe, Japan, Maldives, and Southeast Asia. She has created and designed the costumes for many dances including Belibis, Puspanjali, Cendrawasih, Sekar Jagat, Sarawati, Topeng Dalem Balingkang, and Gadung Kasturi. Additionally, two of her dances have become official dances performed for graduation ceremonies in Indonesia, and she choreographed the dances for the Canadian film “Bali Nocturne.”
Among her many honors are the Siwa Nataraja Award from the Indonesian College of the Arts in Bali, the Gold Pin Award from the Balisani Hotel for her work in developing and preserving the arts and culture, and the Adhi Karya Award from the Minister of Tourism, Post, and Telecommunication of the Republic of Indonesia for her achievements in supporting tourism through the arts.
For more information about the concert and Gamelan Gita Sari, contact Joan Townsend at 508-793-3490.