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TBS Abroad Week 9: Performance and Art

By Emily Weaver on April 10, 2019

Week 9- Performance and Art

Now that  we’re well into the semester it’s time to think about culture. I know what you’re thinking, “haven’t we been talking about culture from the start?”. You’re right, we have, this time though we’re going to talk about performance and art. The locations that you have travelled to, undoubtedly, have certain styles of dance or music, certain architecture, or certain artists that speak to the heart of the country. These examples connect history with the present. They provide people all around the world a glimpse into what these countries are really like. So this week, tell us about that. Have you been to any performances? Is the architecture of where you are particularly striking or different from the US? Have you been to any art museums? Have you made an attempt to capture the culture through art? This week’s prompt is pretty wide, be creative and show us how this country is represented through art.

Emily Weaver

Icelandic history is steeped in their sagas. This narratives outline genealogies, family histories, and tales from the past. You can read these sagas and puzzle your way through all the names and connections. They’re entertaining and the people of Iceland love that they have these written histories. They can also be confusing. So many names and characters make up these sagas that, at times, it can be hard to keep everything straight. Thankfully, these sagas are often acted out for people to see.

We went and saw one of these plays while we were in Reykjavik. We were able to see a one-man show production of Gísla Saga Súrssonar. This saga detailed the history of one of the areas that we stayed while we were in the Westfjords. Heading in to the show, our academic director recommended that we try to read the saga first, to have an idea of what to expect. We made a few chapters before being very confused. The one-man show was funny, cleared up our confusion, and an all around good time.

These sagas are important to the Icelandic people and being able to engage with them really allowed me to see into their culture. Another example of this is when we stopped in Blönduos, on one of our bus trips. Here, a local group is working to create a tapestry of the local areas saga. People from town come in to sew for a few hours and eventually they will have the entire saga for people to see. It’s slow going, but listening to the woman in charge of the project, you could tell that this was important to her and the people who grew up hearing these sagas.

Tapestry being created

Trey Spadone


Art is an intrinsic part of Balinese culture due to its role in religious rituals. Many aspects of Balinese Hinduism are tied to artistic practices and performances and pervades almost every aspect of daily life. I will center this piece on the impact of the performing arts on the island.

Canang Sari (Balinese offerings). These offerings are all over the place and serve as gifts to the gods.

Work by Ida Bagus Anom, a Topeng mask maker. Masks are used for many performances in Bali. 

The group with wayang (shadow puppets). The wayang kulit is a famous art form found in Bali, Java, and Lombok. 

The group learning some Balinese dance moves. It was very difficult! Balinese dance incorporates quite subtle hand, finger, eye, and face movements. 

A group of us attended a Kecak performance at Uluwatu Temple. The show depicts a battle from the Ramayana (a major Sanskrit epic).  

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