Sukses di PKB!






July 8th was our performance at the Bali Arts Festival (or PKB, short for Pesta Kesenian Bali) -- probably the most high-profile show we had planned.  The PKB teems with stadium-loads of Balinese spectators who come to cheer on -- or jeer -- the gamelan groups with a level of enthusiasm that would get you kicked out of a symphony hall in the U.S.  It also involves a high level of official pomp and visibility.   


So yes, we were nervous.  By then exhaustion was starting to set in under our athletic regimen.  A number of us were dealing with illnesses or injuries -- I personally had a swollen wrist wrapped up in an Ace bandage.  And we had to wear our best: long-sleeved jackets for the men and tight merry widows for the women . . . which meant that beforehand we were actually discussing the real danger of fainting from heat exhaustion.  What can you do but hope that it's not too insulting to remove your jacket in front of the governor of Bali if you start to black out?


I mention the governor of Bali because he was there, greeted with respect and applause when he sat down in the front row.  Many of GSJ's past teachers were there too -- Pak Dewa and Ibu Emiko, Pak Suweca, Pak Subandi, Pak Sumandhi, Pak Bandem, Pak Windha, Ibu Arsiki . . . (apologies for any I've missed in this list!) . . . And let's not forget Steve and Linda, there to cheer us on as well.


We managed to truly let the spirit in, and we ended up playing a superb show, full of power and energy.  I felt fed by the audience.  They drenched us with cheers . . . and only laughed out loud once or twice.  One of those times was halfway through the set, when our overheated ugal player Sam, standing front and center, fanned himself with a piece of cardboard and then took a hearty swig from a large clear bottle filled with an electrolyte drink of a suspiciously yellow color -- you can imagine how the audience busted up with laughter, and this moment of unwitting comic relief actually made me feel entirely at ease.  In the second half of our show, little kids were dancing in the sidelines.  And when we got to the finale of our last piece, Jaran Dauh, we found the audience clapping along in time with us.  Afterwards, my face burning and my outfit soaked through with sweat, I saw jegog master Pak Suwentra (Pak Gede Oka's father) when he came up to shake our hands.  He was beaming with pride.


The next day we found that GSJ had been written up in several local newspapers, including the Jembrana Post, who called the performance "nearly perfect"!







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