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Dancing Out of Bali by John Coast

Classic Work of Biography and Travel Reissued After Fifty Years.

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The John Coast Foundation for the Performing Arts in Bali have announced the publication of a new edition of Coast's 1954 classic, Dancing Out of Bali. Perhaps one of the six most influential books on Balinese history and culture written by a Westerner, the book has been out of print for half a century.

Dancing Out of Bali is the personal account of a young Englishman, recently freed from a World War II Japanese prison camp, who took part in the revolutionary upheaval that gripped postwar Indonesia and later settled in Bali.

John Coast immersed himself in Balinese music and dance, ultimately realizing his dream of introducing these arts to Western audiences. In 1952, he toured the first troupe of Balinese dancers and musicians ever to play America.

The troupe appeared at the Winter Garden Theatre in London, the Fulton Theatre in New York, and major venues throughout the Continent and North America. Ed Sullivan presented parts of their Bumblebee Dance (commissioned by Coast and performed to this day) and Monkey Dance to television audiences numbering thirty million. The performers, including the beautiful 12-year-old star, Ni Gusti Raka, enjoyed enormous acclaim, and they were feted by such American royalty as Walt Disney, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby.

A recording of the tour -- out print for 50 years -- will soon be re-released by Arbiter Records.

The tour served to confirm the aesthetic value of these Balinese art forms and to establish Coast himself as a leading international impresario. (He later would present Bob Dylan's first London concert and Ravi Shankar's first appearances in the West.) Further, this pioneering exposure of Balinese arts to the West inspired such European appreciations as Benjamin Britten's "Prince of the Pagodas." And the experience of the Balinese musicians found their expression in dances and music created after their return to Bali.

Dancing Out of Bali relates the remarkable adventure that took John Coast from revolution in Indonesia to the footlights of London and Broadway. It is also a story of life in Bali, of music and dancing in Bali, and of the charm, humor, and ancient values of the Balinese people.

This re-release, issued by Periplus Editions (Tuttle Publishing), features a new foreword by Sir David Attenborough and additional photographs. All royalties from sales of this edition go to the continuance of the performing arts in Bali. thanks Mr. James Murdoch for contributing this review. Recent books by the Bali-based Mr. Murdoch include "Ramli! The Heart of Sutra" a photo-biography of the Malaysian-born Classical Indian Dancer Ramli Ibrahim (Silverfish Books & Sutra, Kuala Lumpur, August 2004) and "Peggy Glanville-Hicks: A Transposed Life" the authoritative biography of one of Australia's most distinguished composers (Pendragon Press, New York, 2003).

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