Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Matthew Oldfield: Kecak!

Photo © Matthew Oldfield-All Rights Reserved

"Kecak dance involves a chorus of chanting men dressed in checked cloth, who build a percussive vocal rhythm that has its roots in the Sanghyang trance-inducing exorcism dance."
Matthew Oldfield  tells us he attended a unique Kecak performance in Bali led by Pak Reno who has been developing his own version of the Kecak dance over several decades, and his chorus performs a much looser version of the typical, choreographed story. No two performances are alike and guests are never sure what will happen.

The Kecak music performance is not accompanied by any music instruments, but by a chorus of around 50 to 100 men. Kecak has roots in sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.

I've been to Bali a handful of times, and attended Kecak performances in different spots on the island, notably in Ubud and Nusa Dua, however these were performances designed for tourists. The one attended by Matthew seemed to have been non commercial, and only 7 spectators attended it.

Kecak is a form of Balinese dance and music drama, originated in Bali and is performed primarily by men,  A German painter and musician got interested in the ritual while living in Bali in the 1930s and worked to recreate it into a drama, based on the Hindu Ramayana.

Matthew is a freelance photographer based in South East Asia, specialising in editorial and documentary images. He's been involved in both photography and the environment since 1993. He's had articles published in Asian Geographic, Asian Diver, Scuba Diver Australasia, FiNS Magazine and Scuba Globe, and photo credits in a huge variety of publications.
Tom Bourdon, a fellow travel photographer, referred Matthew's work to me and we both agree that these high quality photographs would have been enhanced had it been accompanied by the incredible music and sounds of the Kecak in a simple multimedia photo essay.