Barong: The Tale of Kunti Sraya



To Balinese Hindus, the Barong is the protector of their island. He is also the material form of the god Siwa who regularly transforms himself into a Barong when coming face to face with his consort in her powerful guise as the witch queen Rangda. The tense and delicate balance between the Barong’s positive energies and Rangda’s dark powers forms the quintessential centerpiece upon which the Hindu Balinese world pivots. One of the most popular Barong plays narrates an episode from the Mahabarata epic called the Tale of Kunti Sraya. Although Indian in origin, the play is distinctly Balinese in flavor and incorporates all major forms of Balinese theatrical performance including refined female dances (pelegongan), barong (bebarongan), masking (patopengan), opera (pearjaan), drama (pengambuhan) and complex musical patterns.

The cast of Barong: The Tale of Kunti Sraya comprise both professional Balinese dancers as well as NUS students. Students enrolled in the class SE2224: Unmasked! An Introduction to Traditional Dance in Southeast Asia, spent a week in Bali in September learning the various roles needed to produce a Barong performance that would meet Balinese nods of approval. They are joined on stage by members of the NUS community including students from SE1101E: Southeast Asia: A Changing Region, and dancers from Eka Suwara Santhi, Singapore’s only Balinese dance group. Musical accompaniment is provided by Gamelan Pinda Sari from the village of Pinda in Bali.

Barong: The Tale of Kunti Sraya celebrates the close relationship that has developed between the Department of Southeast Asian Studies and the Balinese people. It is a collaborative effort and part of an ongoing series of exciting artistic showcases that bring NUS students out of the classroom and into the dynamic cultural worlds of Southeast Asia.

Tickets @ $10 each are available for purchase from the Department of Southeast Asian Studies general office.


Topeng Calonarang – A Story of Magic and Power


NUS Department of Southeast Asian Studies, with support from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and NUS Office of Student Affairs, is proud to present Topeng Calonarang – A Story of Magic and Power.

Topeng Calonarang tells the story of the exploits of the widow witch of Dirah and King Erlangga of Kediri, East Java. Derived from classical texts composed in the fourteenth century, the story of Calonarang is very well-known in Bali. Performances of Calonarang include a host of actors playing different roles ranging from witches, animals, students of magic, comedians and the lion-like Barong.  The play is traditionally associated with death and resurrection and is often performed as part of temple ceremonies.

Produced and directed for the first time by students in the class SE3230 Seen and Unseen: Explorations in Balinese Theatre, this student led production is a Bali-Singapore (NUS) first. It is an excellent opportunity to showcase the close bilateral ties Singapore has with Indonesia as well as the fascinating beauty of Balinese dance drama, rarely seen in Singapore. The performance will also feature guest dancers from Singapore’s only Balinese dance group, Eka Suwara Santhi.