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Honoring Two Great Gurus of Balinese Dance

'Mengenang Sang Guru' - A Tribute to Gungkak Mandera and Niang Sengog


Former students of the legendary Legong dancer Anak Agung Mandera and traditional musician Gusti Biang Sengog will hold a photo exhibition and four days of dance and music performance from August 26 – 29, 2007 in Peliatan, near Ubud.

Gusti Biang Sengog, more commonly known more as "Niang Sengog," was once of Peliatan's most highly regarded dance instructors. Reference to her tremendous capacities as an educator and in the education of three young Balinese dancers who caused a sensation when they toured the U.S. and U.K. in 1952, is made in the book "Dancing Out of Bali" written by John Coast.

Niang Sengog's career as a dance educator spans 5 generations of Legong Keraton dancers for the Gong Gunung Sari troupe group between the years 1950- 1970. Known as a very modest person, but demanding of her dance students, she typically arrived at her dance tutorials with a basket of betel leaf & nut. Her students still relate how their teacher would mold herself behind them, hugging their bodies and using her arms and entire body to mold each step to a required degree of perfection.

Click Images to Enlarge

Whenever holding a dance class, Niang Sengog was invariably accompanied by Anak Agung Mandera, known as Gungkak Mandera, who would sing the dance melody and play the kendang (drum) while she taught.

Niang Sengog eternally enriched the quality of "pelegongan" in Bali before she died in 1972. Although she taught for a period at the dance academy in Denpasar, her name is largely absent from any Legong literature. Yet, 3 decades after her death, the students whose lives she touched still champion her name.

After her death, her accompanist Gungkak Mandera continued teaching the "Peliatan style Legong" to several generation until he, too, followed her in death. Born in 1905 and leading the club (sekeha) Gong Gunung Sari since 1928, Gungkak Mandera is remembered as a charismatic man, brimming with creative ideas. He was invited to join a Cultural Group to the World Expo in Paris and to lead the Peliatan Dance Group to the U.S.A. in 1952. Marrying two of his Janger dancers, his progeny were to become great dancers in their own rights.

The dance style taught by Niang Sengog and Gungkak Mandera varies somewhat from other Legong dance forms in Bali. The movements they imparted tended to be more dynamic, full of vibration with bold postures leaning to the front beneath a nobly held head and chin. This style has become synonymous with the troupe of Gunung Sari Peliatan and is know today in dance annals as simple the Peliatan Style.

The sekeha Gong has evolved and merged styles with other dance groups, several pupils of Niang Sengog and Gungkak Mandera are today active dance educators. Counted among those from the first generation of pupils carrying on the Peliatan style traditions are Gusti Ayu Raka, who teaches at ARMA Museum in Ubud; A.A. Arimas; and the late A.A. Oka Salim From the third generation is Bulan Trisna, who established the "Bengkel Tari in Bandung and Jakarta," and teaches Legong Peliatan Style to her students. The members of the fourth and fifth generation of pupils continue to teach and perform and are known everywhere as the Peliatan Dancers: A Raka Astuti, A.A. Sri Utari, Niluh Man, Cok Istri Ratih Iriani and A.A. Gede Oka Dalem.

The students of these great teachers perpetuate the the Peliatan Style at the Balerung Mandera Srinertya Waditra and work with other artists, such as Guruh Sukarno Putra performing Legong Untung Surapati.

A Tribute in Photos, Music and Dance

As a tribute to Niang Sengog and Gungkak Mandera, their many pupils have organized a photo and film exhibition from August 27th until September 26th 2007, including special dance performances on August 26, 27, 28 and 29th and September 26, 2006 at the Balerung Stage, Peliatan near Ubud.

Photo Exhibition August 26 – September 26, 2007 at the Balerung Stage, Peliatan.

Sunday, August 26, 2007 Classical Legong & other Dances of Peliatan at 8:00 p.m. presented by the Gunung Sari & Gunung Jati Dance Troupes at the Balerung Stage, Peliatan.

Monday, August 27, 2007 Classical Legong & other Dances of Peliatan at 8:00 p.m. presented by the Tirta Sari & Genta Bhuana Sari Dance Troupes at the Balerung Stage, Peliatan.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 The Works of Guruh Soekarno Putra & Oka Dalem at 8:00 p.m. presented by the Tirta Sari & Genta Bhuana Sari Marching Band & Percussion Group at the Balerung Stage, Peliatan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 a performance by Bengkel AyuBulan, Jakarta and Genta Bhuana at 8:00 p.m. at the Balerung Stage, Peliatan.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 Closing ceremony with the Ladies and Children's Gamelan Orchestra and performance by Mekar Saro & Padma Kumara Sari troupes at 8:00 p.m. at the Balerung Stage, Peliatan.


Admission fee is Rp. 150,000 per person per performance (approximately US$16.30).

For more information and reservations call ++62-(0)361-970503.

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