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Ibu Cenik: A Living Balinese Cultural Treasure

Bali Hotel Public Relations Executives Spend a Morning with Ibu Cenik, a Living Icon of Balinese Dance.

(11/4/2006) Well into her eighth decade of her life, Ni Ketut Cenik is arguably the oldest "working" Balinese dancer. An inspiration to all she meets, Ibu Cenik welcomed the members of Bali's Hotel Public Relations Professionals on a visit to her Batuan residence on a recent Saturday morning.

Cenik Dance


Still very energetic, full of humor, and mentally sharp - Ibu Cenik is happiest when surrounded by young people. Accordingly, she regaled her visitors as she recounted her life's journey as one of Bali's most celebrated dancers. Born in Batuan Village, Gianyar, Ibu Cenik started dance lessons while still a young girl. Family lore portrays the youthful Cenik as a rebellious character resisting restrictions and control in any form. As a young dancer, she tried the patience of those who tutored her in dance. Precociously talented and highly opinionated, she worked her way through several teachers in a continuing search for a mentor who combined her idealized mixture of wisdom, creativity and internal beauty.

Age and the passing years have not dulled Ibu Cenik's unwavering commitment to perfection in performance. Still regularly presenting the colorful Calonarang dance, Ibu Cenik brings her undying enthusiasm for the lively arts to each performance, always managing to move her audience via her riveting portrayal of Bali's most famous witch. In explaining her ability to retain command of a stage as a soloist dancer, Ibu Cenik explained: "When performing, you have to understand your audience; take control, look in their eyes and fly them away with you in your dance."

Eager to share the magic of Bali through dance, Ibu Cenik still regularly travels across Indonesia and overseas to perform. When not jet-setting to another performance or teaching formal classes in dance at Ubud's Arma Museum, this great-grandmother spends her time in the family courtyard, surrounded by children eager to absorb her wisdom, personal warmth and impromptu "master classes" in dance movement.

Living proof that you're never too old to dance, Ibu Cenik provided an impromptu dance tutorial to the members of the Bali Hotel Public Relations Association (HHPB) during their visit - with each of executives hoping to garner some practical insights on the techniques of projecting personal charisma and poise from a very lively, living cultural treasure of Bali.