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Artist Activism

Sawah Bali is planning a local Outreach for Youth tour this Fall with its own dance/theatre ensemble. This commissioned performance is being created and directed by Ariel Ashwell, a veteran theatre director and choreographer who came to Bali expressly to create this show in support of our work. Ariel is also a long time friend of Phyllis, dating back to their undergraduate days at Bennington College in the mid-70's.The cast is composed entirely of Balinese performing artists whose farming families live in the sawah and subak on the outskirts of Ubud. The music is being composed by Wayan "Dedik" Rachman, an ethnomusicologist who just happens to be the "Conductor of Land Conservation" at Sawah Bali.

Using traditional Balinese Temple dance constructs, including Gamelan orchestra, dance and pantomime, shadow play and original music, the piece explores the "fork in the road". The decision to sell sawah land for an instant lottery win or to maintain the land and the cultural heritage interwoven into the fabric of the rice farm community. Selling unleashes a Pandora's box of complications that illustrate the many pitfalls to selling their farming land for tourist development both commercial and residential. These include water shortages for the subak, less effective resource management, dismantling of the farming community, loss of identity, and possible ostracization.

This tragicomedy will first be performed in a number of Subaks for the farming communities that must face this decision: to sell or not to sell. The ensemble has been invited to apply to represent Bali in Ankara, Turkey in the 2016 Land and Home Project of the International Drama and Education Association (IDEA).

Following the performance, a facilitator will encourage a full and open discussion with the audience to voice their concerns, share stories from their own experience and learn where they stand as a subak community in solidarity or not.

bali, traditional dance, sawah bali
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