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Situated in central Bali on the slopes of a volcano, the village of Sebatu (population 1,800) has enjoyed a special fortune. It was in 1969 that the musicians of Sebatu, then isolated in the mountains, were noticed for their highly poetic style, at once virtuoso and singularly delicate. For 5 decades now, Sebatu's reputation has been built on their European tours, particularly in France, where they have performed in prestigious venues such as the Palais Garnier and, at Pierre Boulez's invitation, the Aix-en-Provence Festival.

Jaya Semara Wati, the young group from the mountain village of Sebatu, is a brilliant successor to its elder group Carmanwati, who has already toured extensively in France. Like most traditional Balinese troupes, Jaya Semara Wati has no professional performers, because music, dance and theatre are above all civic duties performed during the countless sumptuous Hindu-Balinese rituals. Of the 40 members of this group, including a few old hands who have already performed in France, 67% are farmers, 18% shopkeepers and 5% sculptors, with the remaining 10% working in tourism.

The show put on by the Jaya Semara Wati de Sebatu troupe is representative of the rich range of Balinese styles due to their different origins and functions: ritual collective dances, specific to each village; their evolution into virtuoso choreographies for seasoned soloists; the Kebyar, a musical and choreographic revolution (from 1915); the aristocratic traditions of narrative ballet and dance theatre drawn from Indian and Hindu-Javanese literature, in particular the tantric traditions of the sacred masks associated with the cemetery and the jungle. Consisted in 2 parts, the show first presents highlights of Balinese music and dance, followed by a new narrative performance, in 7 short chatpers articulating learned traditions of music, dance, masks, vocal arts and choreographed chorus. Jaya Semara Wati's show, again with gamelan, presents the same balance of pure music and dance pieces and dramatic traditions of dance, masks and voice. At the Exposition Coloniale in Vincennes in 1931, the Balinese show so impressed Antonin Artaud that it inspired his most famous work, Le théâtre et son double.

Indonesia has at least a hundred different types of instrumental ensemble known as gamelan, originally (and still mainly) based on metal and/or bamboo percussion. Their common denominator is the concept of the "collective instrument", which is the exact opposite of the orchestra of individual instruments. The instrument is the entire gamelan, as if a piano were being played by dozens of musicians armed with hammers. This entity is indissoluble because each gamelan has its own tuning, "its own voice". In Balinese style, the musicians share the notes to weave the melodic lines at dizzying speeds. These specificities are representative of a society where the collective comes first and the ego is enemy number one.


Unusual in its form, but made up entirely of classical traditions combined (as the Balinese like to do), the 2nd part of the show will be an aesthetic discovery of the processes of harmonisation and purification actually employed by the Balinese in ritual, meditation and their Tantric theatre - Tantra or Tantrism is a generic term for the esoteric treatises and practices of the Hindu-Buddhist science spread across a vast Asia that was once more or less heavily Indianised.

Opening  with a piece of music played on a magnificent gamelan semar pegulingan, which we very rarely get to hear, the second part then brings on stage the legon kraton (royal narrative ballet), a dizzying summit of Balinese classical dance, followed by an original narrative form of performance in 7 short episodes, articulating learned traditions of music, dance, masks, vocal arts and choreographed chorus.

This time, to get closer to this dimension during the 7 episodes of Part 2, the audience will benefit from translations of the words and explanations of the action in surtitles, as well as a lighting design that accentuates the changes of place and atmosphere, the events and the symbolism. The incidental music, traditionally very repetitive, has also been enriched with contrasts. Far from being a 'tourist' adaptation, this show is an opportunity to discover, with the meaning it conveys, an eminently aesthetic, highly stylish vocal art form in ancient literary languages, declaimed or sung in a variety of metres and styles. In addition to his beautiful singing voice, the narrator Jro Kartu also possesses the widest range of spoken voices, for all types of characters, being a puppet-priest (mangku-dalang) whose vocal apparatus, like that of all Balinese "masters of the Word", is a microcosm, "cosmised" by secret tantric rites.



25 musicians


royal narrative ballet /

[3 dancers
Episode 1: "

The King and his Captive
Episode 2:

"The bird of ill omen".
- NARRATIVE SEQUENCE: "Jungle ordeal”

Episode 3:

Masked dance of the jauk fauns,

against the king

[4 dancers, 1 female dancer].  

Episode 4:

Masked dance of the barong ket, "

the beast", against the king

[2 dancers under the mask and 3 Jauk)

Episode 5:

Mask duel, barong couple

and rangda, "the widow" [3 dancers].
Episode 6:

Singer-narrator vocal duet

and invasion of the bhuta-kala  

Episode 7:

Choreographed kecak chorus of bhuta-kala 25 singers, narrator, singer, barong

and rangda masks].




 25 musicians

1 dancer

6 dancers

1 dancer

1 dancer


"As we leave the Philharmonie de Paris on Saturday evening, we can better understand why so many composers, from Debussy to Steve Reich, Britten to Messiaen, have been fascinated and inspired by gamelan. The highlight of a weekend devoted to Indonesia, the grand spectacle of 'Bali dances and masked ballet', presented by the Jaya Semara Wati troupe from the village of Sebatu, shows the quintessence of an art which, although traditional, nonetheless resonates with our ears with a strange flavour of modernity". Emmanuel Dupuy - DIAPASON





The program is composed of
of two parts, with an intermission


     Part 2 - NARRATIVE BALLET, MASKS AND KECAK (55 mins, surtitled)


part 1

Music, dance and narrative ballet with masks




tour calendar 23/24

Dates will be announced shortly.











represents the Jaya Semara Wati group from Sebatu

in Europe


Artistic Direction,

co-staging, narration,

singing, puppets:

Jro Kartu

(I Made Kartu Santika)


Company management:

I Wayan Gede Sanjaya

Artistic advisor,


translation, surtitles:

Kati Basset


Bali - Indonesia

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