Sun, 07 Sep 2003

Bali mourns 'Kecak' maestro

I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Bedulu, Bali

The energetic dancer, Wayan Limbak, passed away on Friday night at the age of 106. In the early 30s -- along with the late German painter Walter Spies -- he appropriated the chorus of the sacred Sanghyang dance to choreograph the powerful performance, later known as Kecak and so popular with tourists here.

"It is a tremendous loss for us, he was one of this island's cultural pillars," a cultural observer, Putu Suasta, said.

Ketut Sandi, Limbak's youngest son, said his father died at around 9.10 p.m. at the Gianyar's Sanjiwani hospital, where he was being treated after a suspected stroke.

"He made a single sound and it was over. He died quietly and calmly," he said.

Limbak was taken to hospital on Aug. 16, seven days after he fell down in the yard of his house and hurt his head. He was discharged on Aug. 23 but when his condition deteriorated his family returned him to hospital on Aug. 30.

"The ritual to cleanse his body will be conducted on Sunday while the cremation will take place in the early evening on Monday. High Priest Ida Pedanda of Griya Wanayu will officiate the ritual," Sandi said.

Members of the Banjar (traditional neighborhood association) Marga Bingung, Bedulu, flocked to Limbak's house on Saturday, offering condolences and preparing the offerings for the ceremony.

Besides assisting Spies in choreographing the Kecak, Limbak also played a vital role in popularizing the dance by taking his troupe to various international art events, thus, making him one of the most recognized icons of the Indonesian arts.

"He was an influential figure here in Bedulu, not only because he was an accomplished dancer but also because he was the longest-serving village chief we ever had," a villager said.

Limbak was survived by four children, 22 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild. His three wives and four of his children had passed away before him.