Esplanade Presents

Music | Dance

The Night Ritual of Calon Arang

Eka Suwara Santhi, Gamelan Pinda Sari and Sanggar Langlang Jagat (Singapore, Indonesia)

13 Apr 2024, Sat, 10.30pm

1hr

(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Forecourt Garden

Free
Synopsis

Witness the drama of Calon Arang, a Balinese ritual theatre performance in a special late-night set at the Balinese Temple Stage at the Esplanade Forecourt Garden. 

 

Barong, the protector and Rangda, the destroyer 

Two mythical figures are ever-present in Bali: the Barong, protector against evil forces and portrayed playfully as a creature with big eyes, clacking jaws and layers of fur; and Rangda, the much-feared though respected witch-widow queen of black magic, with aggressive bulging eyes, large tusks, matted hair, a long tongue and entrails dangling out.  

 

Both Barong and Rangda are imbued with a strong aura of magic: old and authentic masks that bear holy inscriptions are consecrated through a set of rituals, and kept in village temples where they are revered as patron spirits.  

  

The relationship and mythology of Barong and Rangda are complex: one destroys and the other protects; and neither one triumphs over the other permanently, but out of the chaos, balance and order is restored.

 

The Night Ritual of Calon Arang  

Barong and Rangda both feature in village drama performances, the best known of which is Calon Arang, based on an ancient East Javanese legend, named after the powerful widow-protagonist of the legend. To the Balinese, black magic is a living reality, and is practiced by some communities on the island. With the Calon Arang drama laden with such magic, it is performed in village temples, or ominous places such as cemeteries, to ward off an epidemic and restore order in the community. 

 

As the story goes, Calon Arang is a widow and practitioner of black magic, with the ability to communicate with the spirits. She owns two powerful books of black magic, and because of her power, nobody dares marry her beautiful daughter. Furious, she brings about an epidemic to destroy the kingdom. Directing her followers in a ritual, young maidens dressed in white perform a dance that is the antithesis of Balinese classical dance.  

 

The king, having heard of Calon Arang’s intentions, sends his minister to fight her. (In another version, the prime minister marries Calon Arang’s daughter and steals her black magic books. In a rage, she directs her followers to bring about destruction).  

 

When the minister approaches, Calon Arang appears as the incarnation of Rangda. The villagers try to attack Rangda but she casts a spell to turn them against themselves; and the performance culminates in the famous scene, where the villages stab themselves with their keris (asymmetrical daggers).  

 

Barong appears, and his magic protects the villagers from self-harm, eventually overcoming Rangda’s spell, bringing about peace and order. Throughout the ritual, the village priests control the proceedings, reviving entranced participants with holy water and incense. 

Language: Balinese, Indonesian and English
Things to Note:
Accessibility Advisory: We provide a range of access services and relaxed performances for patrons with access needs. For wheelchair-accessible seats, please call Esplanade Customer Experience at 6828 8377 for assistance. Concessions for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and up to one accompanying companion are available. | View our accessibility guide
Artist Information

Eka Suwara Santhi

Website

Eka Suwara Santhi was established in 2014 and is Singapore’s only Balinese dance group. It performs a variety of Balinese dances ranging from traditional and ancient pieces to modern choreographies. Eka Suwara Santhi also conducts dance and movement workshops from basic to advanced levels. They also conduct lectures and talks on Balinese dance and its cultural and historical associations. 

Gamelan Pinda Sari

Led by maestro drummer I Nyoman Kariasa from the Indonesian Institute of Fine Arts (ISI) in Denpasar, Bali, Gamelan Pinda Sari is well-known in Bali for its exuberant playing style. The musicians are all villagers from Pinda in Bali and have performed in Singapore on several occasions.  

Sanggar Langlang Jagat

Sanggar Langlang Jagat was set up by I Made Suteja, a well-known dancer in Batuan, Bali. Also known as the Kaki Bebek House group after Suteja's home studio, Sanggar Langlang Jagat performs traditional Balinese dances in the classic Batuan style. The group also conducts classes and workshops for adult learners and children. 

Date & Time

13 Apr 2024, Sat

10.30pm

Esplanade Forecourt Garden
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