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Balinese dancer debuts with Gamelan Galak Tika

MIT's acclaimed Balinese music and dance ensemble, Gamelan Galak Tika, opens its seventh season with a concert on Friday, Dec. 10 at 8pm at Kresge Auditorium. The concert will feature the US debut of masked dancer Gusti Ngurah Ketut Artawan, the scion of the famous Topeng Cabang Sari family of dancers.

The masked dance of Bali -- the topeng -- is a classical art form still wildly popular in that country, where it is used for everything from sacred temple ceremonies to nightclub entertainment. With roots in Bali's pre-Hindu animist past, it provides a link from the modern day to an ancient heritage.

Mr. Artawan's family has specialized in topeng for generations and for this performance he will present the fierce Jauk Keras -- a depiction of a traditional trickster figure in Balinese mythology.

Also on the program will be two masterpieces of present-day Balinese choreography -- the welcoming dance Penyembrama and the kebyar dance Oleg Tambulilingan -- performed by Galak Tika's own troupe of dancers.

"This is one of our most dance-oriented programs, really an attempt to show how integrated music and dance are in Bali," said the group's director, Professor Evan Ziporyn. He noted that this is also the first performance of the group since it became a class for credit as well as an MIT community group.

The concert will also include instrumental compositions for Balinese gamelan, a percussion ensemble that features an intricate and unique form of interlocking rhythms performed on Galak Tika's custom handmade and individually carved instruments. A lecture/demonstration by Professor Ziporyn will lead the audience through the basic structure of the music.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 8, 1999.

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