Bali, a gorgeous island between Java and Lombok, is one of the world’s top holiday destinations. Today, Bali is filled with kitschy cafes, vibrant bars, hotels, motorbikes and of course, tourists. But despite modernization, local Balinese still holds their traditional values and spirituality dearly. After all, Bali earned its nickname “Pulau Dewata”, or The Island of Gods, from its over 20,000 temples and offerings easily found in every nook and cranny around the island.

On Monday night, 12 September 2016, the ICN Cultural Production will be performing a classic Balinese folklore to highlight a hidden, little-known story behind why spirituality and gods are still an important part in modern Balinese lives. The Nirwata musical performance will be taking the audience hundreds of years into the past to show an ancient battle of hope, two star-crossed lovers and a dying kingdom.

After the kingdom of Wanekeling Kalianget was devastated by a grave disaster, the great king fell into despair. It was as if the gods have abandoned the people of Bali to fend off for themselves. Then, came a young villager who desired to bring the kingdom back to its feet. His actions not only changed the fate of the kingdom, but also the entire island of Bali. Would the young man eventually succeed in restoring the hope that was lost in the catastrophe? What kind of end would befall the kingdom? And would the gods finally turn their gaze upon Bali once more?

“There are many ways to interpret Nirwata,” according to Nirwata scriptwriter Irfan Silalahi. “But for me, it is about how faith guides oneself to the right direction.”

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Nirwata
is produced by the Indonesian students at Nanyang Technological University, who started the ICN Cultural Production in 2007. It features original Balinese-inspired music composition, a fusion dance choreography, and a handmade wardrobe and set.

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“Most traditional Balinese dance have their own historical background and stories,” explained Sherly Amelia Wijaya, one of Nirwata’s dance choreographers. “By studying the underlying meaning of the dance, we can create a new concept that combines traditional and contemporary dance without losing its original message.”

While Nirwata incorporates modern elements to deliver the traditional folklore–from fusion choreography and dance moves to a gorilla mask modified to create a lion-like creature–the production team ensures its accuracy through guidance from the Indonesian cultural community Rumah Budaya Indonesia and Professor Irving Chan Johnson, a Southeast Asian Studies professor at the National University of Singapore with research interests in Balinese culture.

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Nirwata: A Musical will be performed on 12 September 2016, at 7.30pm, at University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore. Tickets are available for purchase online through http://icnmusical.com/nirwata/#buyTicket

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Edited by Kirana S.