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“Beyond Cultural Tourism: Experiencing the Arts in Bali” Syllabus

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Experiencing the Arts in Bali
July 4 – July 25, 2014
Study Abroad Office, the School of Music, and the School of Art Northern Illinois University

Editor’s Note: The syllabus that follows complements “Beyond Cultural Tourism: Experiencing the Arts in Bali” by Jui-Ching Wang from the EAA spring 2016 issue online supplements (vol. 21, no. 1). If you have any questions about the readings and course materials listed in the syllabus, you may contact Jui-Ching Wang at

Experiencing the Arts in Bali July 4 – July 25, 2014 Study Abroad Office, the School of Music, and the School of Art Northern Illinois University


The program will officially begin on July 4, 2014 in Tabanan, Bali, and will end on July 26, 2014. Students will be responsible for making their own air travel arrangements in order to arrive at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar by 6:00pm on July 4, 2014. A shuttle pickup will be arranged for the students to take them to Tabana.


The cooperating overseas agency is the Traditional Dance and Music Studio, Sanggar Manik Galih, in Tabanan, Bali. The program is in response to Americans’ growing awareness of Southeast Asian cultures in general and of the unique Balinese arts and their functions in traditional and modern-day Balinese society in particular.

Music, dance, and theater along with art and crafts are important parts of Balinese culture. The ceremonial nature of the arts reflects the multiple layers of religious practices and philosophies embedded in a complex sociocultural structure of Balinese society. The inseparable relationships among these arts provide a vivid soundscape and landscape for students to experience the functions of arts in a living environment. The artistic fieldwork experiences will enable students to encounter first-hand Balinese cultural information and will help them to reinforce the theories learned in courses such as anthropology, history, art history, and ethnomusicology. However, previous experience in such courses is not required.

In addition to studying the arts, through living in a traditional village compound, banjar, students will be able to interact with local villagers, participate in (or observe) Odalan, “regularly scheduled festivals to celebrate the anniversary of temples’ dedication” (Dunbar-Hall 2006, 62), and examine the Balinese cultural practices on a daily basis in order to gain a close and intimate familiarity with the Balinese and their involvement with one another in their cultural environment. Since Bali is one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world, students in this program are also encouraged to interact with other tourists to gain insights into the impact of tourism on the development of Balinese culture in the globalized era (Dunbar-Hall, 55).


Through this program, participants will experience a new culture by interacting with the local people and gaining knowledge about the inseparable relationship of Balinese arts (music, dance, crafts, and visual arts), religion, and culture. This knowledge will be acquired through the following:

  • Classroom lectures on Balinese culture and religious practices, i.e., animism and Hinduism, and their influence on music, dance, theater and epic literature, and the arts throughout history
  • Classroom lectures on Balinese music and the different dance traditions accompanied by various styles of gamelan
  • Classroom lectures on traditional Balinese architecture and crafts, such as batik (a dyeing technique) and wayang kulit (shadow puppetry) theater
  • Field experiences including: ü
    • Gamelan and dance workshop (daily)
    • Leather puppet carving and woodcarving workshop (daily)
    • Architecture & landscapes tour (weekends)
    • Festival attendance (TBA, according to the local calendar)


Banjar Bangah, Baturiti, in Tabanan, Bali, is the primary site where this program will be based.

Tabanan is the capital of the Tabanan regency of Bali. Not well known by visitors due to a lack of infrastructure, the coastal areas in the south have been lightly developed in recent years, and there are now some high profile accommodation options there. Tabanan is more famous for its rolling green landscapes, hills and especially the imposing Mount Batukaru, Bali’s second highest peak at 2,276 meters. The town of Mengwi has a long and rich history associated with its royal family and a splendid temple complex at Taman Ayun. (

Students will stay and study in Banjar Bangah in Tabanan for the four-week program. A small village compound bound by religion and a local brand of communalism, the banjar can also be perceived as a traditional autonomous institution that fulfills the villagers communal and religious needs by combining social activities and ceremonies. Because music is an important part of such ceremonies, traditionally each banjar owns and maintains sets of gamelan. Banjar is the most basic building block of the whole of the Balinese society and is the most important link between the government and the Balinese. Banjars are like tiny screw in the huge engine. If one of the screws comes loose, the whole engine will start to fail. (

In addition, the program will take place at the following sites:

  • Ubud Culture Center;
  • Temples: Taman Ayun Temple, Beratan Temple, Tanh Lot Temple, Besakih Temple;
  • Scenic Sites: Beratan Lake, Botanical Garden, Rice Terrace, Monkey Forest, Lovina Beach, and Gitgit Waterfall

The students will also participate in part of the 2014 Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar. The Bali Arts Festival is a full month event consisting of daily performances, handicraft exhibitions, and other related cultural and commercial activities. On display are forgotten or recently revived trance dances from remote mountain areas, food and offering contests, classical palace dances, and “kreasi baru” (new creations) from the dance schools of Denpasar and contemporary choreography and dance companies from other Indonesian islands and abroad. The Bali Arts Festival, the Denpasar cultural event of the year, is a unique opportunity to see local village culture, “live” and at first hand. (


Jui -Ching Wang (Music) Jui-Ching Wang is Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University where she teaches music education and world music courses and coordinates world music ensembles such as Chinese music ensemble, Indonesian gamelan ensemble, and Middle Eastern music ensemble. She has published journal articles in English and Chinese and has presented papers at professional music education and interdisciplinary conferences. As a clinician advocating the study of music as culture, Dr. Wang has provided training and demonstrations for in-service teachers and students in the U.S., China, and Taiwan to help them expand their cultural horizon through music.

Shei-Chau Wang (Art) Shei-Chau Wang is Associate Professor in Art and Design Education in the School of Art. Before joining the NIU faculty, Dr. Wang taught Art, Design, and Art Education at several universities in Taiwan. His research interests include e-learning in art and design, art assessment in digital/virtual learning environments, and interdisciplinary education through the arts. He has published articles in both English and Chinese and presented numerous papers at both national and international conferences. He currently serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Education through Art (International Society of Education through Art) and 美育 [the Journal of Aesthetic Education] (National Taiwan Arts Education Center).


I Made Lasmawan, Gamelan Balinese drummer and composer I Made Lasmawan was born in the village of Bangah, in the Baturiti region of the regency of Tabanan, Bali in 1958. Strongly influenced by his family and involved in the arts since childhood, he entered KOKAR (Conservatory for Traditional Performing Arts) in Denpasar, Bali, and graduated in 1977. He continued his studies in 1978 at STSI (Indonesian College of the Arts) in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, and studied traditional Javanese music, receiving his Traditional Indonesian Music degree in 1983.

Mr. Lasmawan has traveled throughout the world, including Belgium, France, England, Singapore, Japan and Mexico. He is a prolific composer who taught Balinese music at STSI from 1983 until 1990, when he was invited to San Diego State University to teach Javanese and Balinese music. Living in Colorado since 1993 as an Artist-in-Residence with the Gamelan Tunas Mekar, he also teaches Balinese gamelan at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. When in Bali, he continues to play a lead role in the development of his home village’s musical orchestras, which include a men’s gamelan angklung and a children’s orchestra.


Space is limited and qualified applicants will be accepted on a first-comefirst-served basis. The program is open to all students (both undergraduate and graduate levels) interested in Balinese culture, including non-traditional students, students-at-large, and professionals. This course will be of special interest to students from art (studio art, art education, and art history), anthropology, communication, political science, global studies, cultural studies, music, dance, theater, and history, and to those with a Southeast Asian Studies focus.


The sessions include daily (5-day/per week) lectures, daily rehearsals with guest instructors, and workshops with local leather puppet and woodcarving artists. Individual and group practice sessions (on music and dance) are also important parts of the program. In addition, evening events including participation in local festivals/ceremonies will be arranged according to the Balinese calendar to be part of your cultural exploration. A one-hour debriefing session will be held daily by the program directors to allow you to reflect on the activities during the day and to ask questions relevant to the cultural experiences you have encountered. After the debriefing session, you will be required to make an entry into a daily journal of what you have learned from these instructional and field experiences and submit it electronically daily to the program directors as part of the assessment process. Sessions are normally held in the banjar, with the exception of attendance at temple festivals/ceremonies in different villages and on architecture and scenery tours around the island.

Daily Schedule:


  • Breakfast is served between 7:30 and 8:30.
  • One-hour lecture begins at 9:00.
  • Gamelan and dance session begins at 10:00.
  • Lunch is served at noon.


  • Craft/Arts class starts at 2:00.
  • Individual/group practice starts at 3:30.


  • Dinner (debrief session) is served at 6:30.
  • Evening rehearsal begins at 7:30.
  • Festivals/Ceremonies (TBA)


  • Tourist activities will be arranged.

* There will be 10 activities including festivals/ceremonies and weekend tours.

Course Requirement for Undergraduate Students:

  • Active participation in daily lecture, rehearsal, workshop, practice, and debriefing sessions, and occasional cultural events (50%)
  • Electronic submission of a weekly summary assignment in a multi-media format of photos, video clips, and a 3-paragraph reflection essay (3 entries, 30%)
  • Completion of a 15-minute soundscape documentary at the end of the program to highlight your cultural exploration (20%)

Course Requirement for Graduate Students

  • Active participation in daily lecture, rehearsal, workshop, practice, and debriefing sessions, and occasional cultural events (50%)
  • Electronic submission of a weekly summary assignment in a multi-media format of photos, video clips, and an in-depth 2-page single spaced reflection essay that tackles cultural elements encountered during the exploration. To write your reflection essay, you must employ ethnographic methods, e.g., interview, observation, and/or reflexivity. Your reflection should also be framed within Cultural Anthropological Theories, such as Geertz’s Thick Description (3 entries, 30%)
  • Completion of a 30-minute soundscape documentary at the end of the program to highlight your cultural exploration (20%)


For satisfactory participation in the program, participants will receive 3 semester hours of undergraduate or graduate credit in one of the following courses. There is no prerequisite of musical, dance, or art ability. A knowledge of Indonesian is not required either.

Required Materials:

  •  You will need to carry a laptop or an iPad, camera, video/audio recorder, or a smart phone in order to complete part of the assignments.
  • You are also required to study the reading materials that will be in electronic format and will be sent to you via email prior to the starting date of the program.

Reading List:

  •  Davies, S. 2007. “Balinese Aesthetics.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 65 (2), 21- 29.
  • Dunbar-Hall, P. 2006. “Culture, Tourism, and Cultural Tourism: Boundaries and Frontiers in Performances of Balinese Music and Dance.” In Post, J. (ed.), Ethnomusicology: A Contemporary Reader, 53-66.
  • Gralapp, L.W. 1967. “Balinese Painting and the Wayang Tradition.” Artibus Asiae 29, 239-266.
  • Geertz, Clifford. 1973. “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture.” In The Interpretation of Cultures, 3-30. New York: Basic Books.
  • McPhee, C. 2002 (1948). A Club of Small Men: A Children’s Tale from Bali. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, Inc.
  • Miller, T. & Sean Williams. 2008. “Southeast Asian Music: An Overview.” In Miller & Williams (eds.), The Garland Handbook of Southeast Asian Music, 4-20.
  • Shelemay, K. 2006. “What is a Soundscape?” In Soundscape: Exploring Music in a Changing World, xxxiv-xxxv. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Recommended Books:

  •  Bohan-Tyrie, T., Mason, V., & Beal, G. 2001. Balinese Children’s Favorite Stories. Singapore: Periplus Editions, Inc.
  • Eiseman, F. B. 2009. Bali: Sekala & Niskala. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing.
  • Lasing, J.S. 1995. The Balinese. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
  • McPhee, C. 2000 (1947). A House in Bali. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, Inc.
  • Reichle, N. 2011. Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum.
  • Tenzer, M. 1991. Balinese Music. Singapore: Periplus Editions, Inc.


March 31, 2014.


Participants will reside in Banjar Bangah, traditional village compound in twin bedded rooms with shared bath and toilet and will be provided three meals daily throughout the period of residency. Address of the primary site:

Banjar Bangah, Baturiti, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia

Primary contact person: I Made Lasmawan

Phone No. (Indonesia): 011-62-238-636-041

AIR TRANSPORTATION: (Most programs require that the participants are responsible for making their own flight arrangements.)

Individuals will be responsible for making their own air travel arrangements between the U.S. and Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, and for purchasing their tickets from a travel agent or airline of their choice. (Travel insurance is recommended.) Participants should keep in mind that in order to arrive in Denpasar in time for the official beginning of the program, they should plan to depart the U.S. no later than July 2, 2014. Please note that there is a 12-hour time difference between DeKalb and Denpasar and therefore, a July departure in Denpasar time is already July 3.

For information regarding airfares and airlines students may wish to check-out additional airfare sites on the Internet.