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Dharma Kanti

The musicians of Dharma Kanti have enjoyed a long tradition. The bamboo ensemble of Beluangan was created in 1942, during the peak of popularity of joged. The group has remained active continuously since then, despite turnover in its membership of musicians (due to deaths) and of dancers (who usually perform only for five or 10 years, and stop when they get married and have families.) Their original bamboo instruments were used until 1978, at which point the players rebuilt the entire gamelan and reformed their group, taking the name Dharma Kanti.

Aside from its usual performance sites at homes, town pavilions (bale banjar), and village squares, joged can be a street dance — quite literally. The Dharma Kanti group still sometimes sets up right in the middle of the main road of their village, blocking all traffic and forcing everyone to stop and watch. (This is how I first encountered them in 1990, in the adjacent hamlet of Banjar Anyar.) They are frequently invited to play in neighboring villages, usually in connection with a ceremony, and occasionally at a restaurant or hotel.

Despite its informal, entertainment-oriented tradition, this group has a strong religious aspect. Dharma Kanti is closely associated with a small temple in their village, the Pura Merta Sari, in which the dancers’ headdresses (gelungan) are stored, and where this recording was made. The temple’s priest, Mangku Merta Sari, prepares offerings for their activities and is a performing member of the group. They play at each temple anniversary (odalan) at the temple, which falls on the day Buda Manis Medang Sia in the Balinese calendar, about a month after the Galungan holiday.

The Dharma Kanti Ensemble:
I Nyoman Rampeg, director
I Wayan Birut, vice president
I Made Sukarma, treasurer
I Wayan Mudiana, secretary

1991 musicians (partial):
Mangku Merta Sari, Kak Erik, Kak Kania, Kak Natrini, Pak Koji, Pak Swedia, Pak Niti, Pak Suet, Pak Widana

1991 dancers:
Ni Kadek Sudi, Ni Kadek Ariani, Ni Nyoman Suati, Ni Nyoman Sueri, Ni Wayan Sudi