Ever since I started on the journey of making my own work and exploring my heritage and personal history, Balinese dance has become a strong element in my artistry. I’ve now performed with Lila Bhawa, the UK’s premier Balinese dance company seven times either at the LSO St Luke’s or City University or at least once at the South Bank Centre.
For me the group are like a Southeast Asian family, if not village. There are now 17 dancers in the troupe with some of the Lila Cita (gamelan orchestra) joining in sometimes in rehearsals. Sometimes there will be a baby and the girls take it in turn to look after the little one if the mother happens to be dancing. There is often food, more like a potluck of sweets and Asian savouries. We’re lucky that Dewi works as a sushi chef and often brings the surplus sushi along with her. There are a lots of laughs and much practice. Ni Made Pujawati, or Puja, tries to be guru galak (which always confused me as in Malay means ‘encouraging teacher’ but in Indonesian means ‘strict teacher’). I look forward to going back to rehearsals and learning a new dance, and perfecting the others. We’re going to perform at the Indonesia night at Trafalgar Square in May. Looking forward to that!