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Balinese Trance Performances - Essay Example

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Balinese Trance Performances

But in the view of the vast majority of other traditions, speech, as the mode of communication of ordinary reality, is singularly unsuited for this purpose. It is but a hardly audible knock on the very thick wall separating humans from the spirit realm. In fact, humans have to make a truly heroic effort to be noticed on the other side. Merely talking, falling into a worshipful mood, feeling "transcendent," "numinous, or "oceanic," or whatever other pompous words are listed in the dictionary, simply will not do. Instead humans, if they have the urgent necessity or desire to squeeze through the chinks in the wall, need to change the very functioning of their bodies in the most radical way. The term summarizing these changes is religious trance, one of a large group of altered state of consciousness of which humans are capable. It is termed religious because observation shows that it is the one occurring in religious context, that is, when contact is made with the alternate, the sacred, reality." (9)
Trance when used in the context of highly spiritual, religious and exotic forms of dance or dance drama like Balinese Trance Performance relates t...
igious and exotic forms of dance or dance drama like Balinese Trance Performance relates to a scenario where the performer gets into an altered state of thinking where he/she engages with his/her environment in a highly imaginative and structurally organized engagement. This is the result of sustained involvement of the performer with the performance and the character of the performance whereby there is an easy movement between the performer and the character in terms of personality and mental disposition.

Richard Schechner mentions in his work that even naturalistic actors affirm that something happens to them psychologically and physiologically during a performance. A two way process unfolds simultaneously. The first is the one shaped by author and director, the play and the mise-en-scene. But just as important is the more evanescent process of the performer. The play and mise-en-scene have a quality of having-been-lived, while the performance has the quality of living now. The play will be completed only if the performers are able to carry through the process they start afresh each night. That process cannot be rehearsed. (46)

It is said about Balinese Trance performance that once the performer gets into the shoes of the character, there is total absorption of the personality of the character in terms of body movements, facial expressions and speech. It is as if there is a generation of extraordinary amount of energy in the body of the performer in the form of an outside being entering the body and the soul in the form of an Angel, Demon or other higher Spirits and Deities.

Jane Belo in his work Trance in Bali, elucidates in the context of Balinese trance performances that if human beings went into states of trance, they were believed to be entered by ...Show more


Gilbert Rouget and Brunhilde Biebuyck explain that Trance is a temporary state of consciousness, or, as the word itself indicates, it is transitory. One leaves one's usual state when one enters into trance, and at the end of a certain period of time, the duration of which varies considerably from case to case, one returns to one's previous state…
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