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Bali High 

Wednesday, Sep 2 2009
Thank the traditional performing arts of the Indonesian islands for this afternoon of colorful Balinese fancy-dancing and Sundanese gong-bonging galore. Gamelan Sekar Jaya — an Oakland-based ensemble 30 years running and 50 members strong — throws down a dynamic spectacle of choreographed flawlessness surpassing even the most competent voguing of Madonna’s backup dancers. Rug-cutters in the Gamelan style devote years of their lives to master multiple levels of body articulation — the dancers and musicians of Sekar Jaya have made five tours to Bali, and their cross-cultural concerts are the stuff of legend. After the performance, stay tuned for the truly Sundanese musical stylings of Pusaka Sunda, a group helmed by bamboo flute virtuoso Burhan Sukarma. Dedicated to playing the classical gamelan music of West Java, this merry band builds complex rhythms on brass percussion instruments and drums, sweeping up spectators in sublime and delicate constructions. That the entire affair takes place en plein air and is completely gratis as part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival only makes the promise of interlocking jitterbugs and spellbinding songcraft that much more beguiling.
Sat., Sept. 5, 1 p.m., 2009

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Evan James


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