One of the main attractions in luring foreigners to this enchanted island has from the beginning been the music and dance. As early as 1924 brochures were being produced showing dancing girls in promotion of the island. From the earliest days of Bali’s tourism, overseas visitors have been entertained with KebyarDuduk, Legong and certain dances that became stock presentations tailored to fit as welcome ceremonies for foreign guests staying at the Bali Hotel in Denpasar during the 20s and 30s.
The artistic culture of Bali was first globally spotlighted in 1931 in Paris, where both gamelan performers and dancers electrified the international audience. The outstanding performance struck a nerve which put little Bali on the world map of tourism.
With western education, modern technology, books, films, magazines and a steady tourist trade, Bali was opening to a whole new world. For the first time artists began to treat their work or performance of art for art’s sake – experimenting in new styles, themes and forms of presentation.
The discovery of “The Island of The Gods” by world travelers was inevitable and now tourism in Bali has become the norm. However, the ordinary in Bali (with tourism as well) is always mixing with the extraordinary, the mystical “unseen realm” of the Balinese niskala.
There are those rare, pure artists like Ni Ketut Reneng, who are critical of packaging the arts. This same dancer refused to dance for the first president and founding father, Sukarno when he set a time limit on her dance. When Sukarno lifted the twenty minutes time allowance Reneng conceded and her performance lasted forty minutes, leaving the President suitably impressed.
Great masters of the arts are most often the harshest critics for they are attempting to protect and preserve the “yoga” (union with God) and the spiritual exercises of ngayah (selfless service) and yadnya (sacrifice), which are the foundation of the arts in Bali.