Moving the World

There is nothing more transporting than the eerie, earthy sound of metallophones and gongs ringing through the soft summer air as firelight casts the shadows of demons on the wall and lissome women feather their fingers and flash their eyes. For more than three decades, the Ethnic Dance Festival has drawn exquisite and, sometimes, unlikely dancers from around the world. This year, regions represented are as disparate as Transylvania and Peru, but it is our own Gamelan Sekar Jaya that opens the monthlong fete tonight. Since 1979, the 60-member company of musicians and dancers has performed at the innovative Symphony Space in New York as well as small dirt-track villages in Bali, with material as traditional as the Ramayana and as far-flung as their collaborations with The Residents. The world premiere of Bayangan Jiwa employs shadow dancing and the seven-toned instrumentation of a Semarandana ensemble (rather than the more traditional four tones of Balinese gamelan) to invoke the spaces where spirits dream between light and darkness, silence and sound, stillness and deed. Co-headliner Pusaka Sunda offers gamelan degung music from West Java, with traditional masked dances and song, followed by a collaboration between ensemble leaders I Dewa Putu Berata and Pak Burhan Sukarma.
Sat., June 2, 8 p.m., 2012

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