In late April, we caught a glimpse of an upcoming Ubud dance event across our Instagram feed, not necessarily an unusual occurrence for Ubud. But in this case, how the organizers described the event caught our eye and we headed to the market on a Sunday to see what was happening. With seven 'stages' in total, in various parts of the market that would never be considered as suitable for a dance performance, the dances were progressive.
As one finished, the next began without any warning or fanfare, dancers often just appearing from within the crowd and melting back into it when they finished. Some dances were performed entirely in silence. Eight dance groups participated in the event, organized by Karang Taruna Sadha Jaya of Ubud.
The market sellers and tourists paused their activities, often looking slightly perplexed. Motorbikes navigated to avoid collecting dancers.
Jasmine Okubo brought her beautiful contemporary dance to the stairs of the market, followed by her little noodle bowl attendees and the bakso seller. To see more of Jasmine, watch her gorgeous 2017 TEDxUbud performance.
We all moved into Puri Saren, led by the dancers. After a few minutes wait and wondering if the event had ended as suddenly and quietly as it began, all the groups came together to perform the last piece, dancing on every surface of the Puri.
On the main stage, a completely conventional legong performance with a full gamelan took place, holding every tourist's eye.
But as you looked around, you realized the legong dance was being performed in three other places, by dancers dressed in old-fashioned costumes. Often the dancers were dancing without an audience as only the performers on center stage captured the tourists' attention.