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Dhalang Love

Yesterday, I got to attend our gamelan rehearsal with our dhalang (puppeteer), Midiyanto. I heart Midiyanto. I heart the way he thinks about life.

We had been using the smaller of our two gong agengs all throughout the wayang music. Midiyanto swooped in and declared that we should use the big gong ageng, the one with the wonderfully deep, rich voice, that's so responsive that it will speak if you even breathe on it. If the spirit of the gamelan does live in the gong ageng, then surely Sri Sedånå's spirit lives in this one.

Why did Midiyanto make this change? As he said, "That gong is the biggest, most expensive object in this entire gamelan. It cost you a fortune to ship it from Java. Of course you have to use it, or it wouldn't be worth all the money you spent to get it here in the first place!"

I heart our dhalang, yes I do.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
I saw your subject line and immediately a little tune started in my head. dhalang, dhalang, dhalang (In case you're too young or not familiar with doo wop, that's a variant of the opening of "He's So Fine.)

And, yes, I also think of the Lone Ranger when I hear the overture to William Tell.
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
Doo-lang, doo-lang, doo-lang! Technically, I'm too young, but pop songs of that era have a shelf life of forever.

I think I shall have to write a paper about the cultural afterlife of the William Tell Overture sometime.
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
Sounds beautiful! And yes, that is definitely the right attitude! :-)
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
I'd never met this dhalang before Saturday afternoon, and he was definitely a pleasant surprise, especially after how arrogant our guest drummer is.
Nov. 6th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
Hee. Kind of reminds me of how a lot of beginning flamenco dance students, especially women, go through a phase where it's getting difficult and they really, really want to quit—"But I have to go on, or I'll have wasted all the money I spent on these shoes!"
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
Definitely a powerful motivating force to get you out of a particular slump. And I bet that, when the slump finally passes, they're glad they stuck with the dancing, even if it was only for the sake of the shoes.

By the way, how much do flamenco shoes usually cost?
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
Oh yes. (The semi-pro-quality shoes a typical student wears generally run around $120 to $190 a pair, depending on manufacturer and design. Professional-quality shoes can go for quite a bit more.)
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, that'd motivate me to keep on dancing. Yeesh. My first pair of ghillies ran me only $30, and they lasted for about eight years. My new pair cost about £40, which is more expensive, but nowhere near flamenco shoe range. Of course, ghillies are a completely different beastie.
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:13 am (UTC)
Eight years? Wow. I had to replace my first pair of flamenco shoes (these) after two years, though admittedly that included a lengthy period of serious four-day-a-week abuse. But yeah, seriously different beastie.
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
Admittedly, for much of last year, my ghillies were in pretty rotten shape. I did everything I could to avoid buying a new pair, including buying drugstore insoles and having a cobbler put a patch on a hole (which, I might add, he did very badly -- ended up gluing the shoelaces together!).

I think that the flexibility of ghillies helps with their longevity.
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC)
Oh, that's classic. I'm sure you learned a very valuable lesson from that experience.

And yes, that'd make sense. (And not that I know much about Scottish country dancing, but flamenco is really very rough on shoes—and on one's body if one isn't careful—with all the stomping and the foot-bending and the "you want me to come down how from balancing on my what now?".)
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
I am definitely not going back to that cobbler ever again.

Scottish is certainly much easier on the shoes -- there are pretty much only five basic steps (skip-change, strathspey travel, pas de basque, slip step, and strathspey set), and they're all pretty easy on the feet. The real challenge of Scottish is in the geometry of the figures.
Nov. 6th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
All I can think of is how I'm vaguely reminded of The Year of Living Dangerously.
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
I know very little about The Year of Living Dangerously, so I'll just nod with vague enthusiasm here.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


by Illsaysheis

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