Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting Ready for Bali '09

If you are thinking about joining us on the 2009 trip (Feb. 9 - March 12), we are now accepting applications. This journey will touch your heart, mind, and spirit; it will inspire your work as an actor, dancer, designer, teacher, director, puppeteer, artist, and send you home in better shape than you came. Read on about our '07 experiences; though every trip is different, based on the group and the individuals in it, the depth of experience, the power of the masks, and the personal discoveries are constants.

Monday, April 23, 2007


The close of a life-changing trip is full of emotion, memories, and Bali spirits. Goodbyes at the airport are hard to say. But everyone is planning how to get back...

Tom Jones, Kajsa Ingemansson, Terri Virgilio and David Knezz get a “Selamat Jalan” sendoff from Newman and Joan, who ride off into the sunset via motorbike to savor a glass of rice wine and plan the '09 course.

Thanks to all the students and the wonderful people of Bali who made this such a great trip!


Our final presentation night
is always a little bit of recital, a little bit of party, a lot of friends, and a lot of improvisation. The shadow puppetry students present their original wayang kulit, accompanied by their teachers. The students who have been studying dance are costumed and made up by their teachers in traditional fashion.

This year Kajsa and Terri showed a traditional womens’ welcome dance, a pendet, and were joined by Tom for the gopala, a more recent dance based on the movements of rice planting and harvesting.

After it's all over, everyone dances salsa...

Top: Learning the gopala
Center: Gopala dancers with teachers, Ayu and Ayu
Bottom: one of our teachers, Ayu Hartitik, in performance with her ensemble.

This picture is here only to prove to those back home that Joan really does get around Bali by motorbike. Notice that we drive on the left side in Bali.

The picture of the aptly grafiti-ed curve, “Mr. Blind,” marks a favorite spot for uphill wipeouts in the rainy season. The gods were smiling and Joan walked away from her own Mr. Blind encounter with a minor scratch .

Sunday, March 4, 2007


We are getting ready to leave Bali, and my computer is frozen...this is the third time. I wish I could have a movie for you of what I am looking at right now....sitting on the mezzanine of an internet cafe, watching about 300 Balinese walking down the main street in their temple clothes, on their way to a cremation. Traffic is stopped in both directions--it's probably gridlocked several blocks back...all this as cars and motorbikes idle and putter, and inside the cafe are only foreigners studying their computer is a WORLD here.

I will be posting more photos, haven't yet given you a look at our dance classes since day one, or some of the little glitches like my motorbike accident on the curve appropriately graffited: "Mr. Blind."
Back soon, I hope.....stay tuned!

Monday, February 26, 2007


A Balinese mask starts as a tree. The steps to making a mask: sawing the wood, axeing the block, chisel work to rough in the features, modeling with curved and straight knives, sanding, painting.
David Knezz begins axe work on the block. Above right, the wood at each step of the way, from a demonstration by carver I.B. Anom.
At right is our carving teacher, I.K. Molog, finishing up a topeng tua, or 'old man' mask. Hair is applied to the mask with bamboo pegs, so that it can eventually be replaced without ruining the paint.

To read the full story of carving in the Balinese way, visit a great article by Ron Naverson, who was on our 2003 trip.
Ron is professor of design at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Dell'Arte Abroad students who are studying mask carving spend 4 - 6 hours, five days a week, for four weeks.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Wayang kulit, or shadow puppets, is taught in the home of Wayan Mardika and his family, in Sukawati.

Associate Program Director Newman and Tom Jones working on their puppets, using handmade tooling knives and punches. Learning the music is part of the study, with Wayan's brother, Komang, here with Joani Rose and Kajsa Ingemansson.

Studying to be a dalang, or shadow master, is a multi-disciplinary art involving: making rawhide puppets, painting them, developing character voices spoken and sung, manipulating the puppets while cueing the orchestra, learning ancient Javanese and contemporary Balinese and Bahasa languages, learning Balinese histories and Hindu mythology, including the Ramayana and the Mahabarata; playing the gender music, improvising during a performance in relation to the event, and functioning as a kind of priest/entertainer.

Our month-long study gives us just a taste of this art--our students each design and create a puppet, learn the basic accompanying music, and practice manipulating the puppets. Students also become part of the family life in a Balinese compound, and are invited to temple ceremonies where they are expected to dress in appropriate temple gear. (Photo: Wayan Mardika with his 3 children, and students Jodi Gilbert, Kajsa Ingemansson, Tom Jones, Joani Rose).