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wearing someone else’s face

The World of Balinese Masks – Cosmology and Practice
Lecture & Performance with Carmencita Palemo

How to make a mask alive? The body has to become one with the mask, has to become the mask! How does it happen? Balinese mask performers do not provide an homogeneous opinion; there is no unique and absolute ‘theory of mask in Bali’, but something they all seem to agree on is this: everyone can learn how to dance, ngigel, but this alone is not enough—this is just superficial movement. The important thing is mesolah, “to characterise.” … And how do you characterise a mask? Some of the mask performers associate the concept with the ‘spiritual’ aspects of the dance, others with more physical aspects.

During this lecture performance those aspect will be introduced, then members of the audience will be invited to explore those principles first hand. All participants will find out that breath is the answer. The performer, through the breath, is able to give spirit to the mask, making it alive. The performer is, and appears to be, at one with the mask. The ‘body is the mask’ and the audience is convinced; they forget that they are watching a performer wearing ‘someone else’s face’.

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Carmencita Palemo

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