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RIP: I Gusti Ayu Raya Rasmi 1939 – 2018.

The Queen Bee of Balinese Dance has Died
The acknowledged dance maestro of the romantic Tari Oleg Tamulilingan – I Gusti Ayu Raya Rasmi died at the age of 79 on Tuesday, March 17, 2018, at her home in the village of Abiansemal, Badung Regency.

Family members reports the legendary dancer and mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and great grandmother of 2 died in her sleep after returning from the local market. She is survived by her husband AA Gede Jelantik.

IGA Raka Rasmi joined Sekaha Gong Peliatan at the age of 12 in 1951 where she displayed precocious dance abilities as a Legong dancer. During this period, John Coast, a retired English Diplomat who had taken up residence in Bali with his wife following an assignment at the British Embassy in Jakarta, was germinating an idea to take a Balinese dance and music group on a world tour. After gaining the enthusiastic endorsement of the then President Sukarno, Coast approached the semi-retired legendary dancer Mario (I Ketut Maria) to create an original romantic pas de deux to be included in the repertoire of his globetrotting dance troupe. Mario, originally from Tabanan and credited with creating the physically daunting Kebyar Duduk, initially refused the commission, citing his advancing age and a desire to spend more time pursuing cock-fighting. When Coast showed Mario pictures of the of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Ballet, Mario was reportedly instantly insinspired to create the iconic dance depiction of pollination of flowers by a pair of male and female dancers in the role of bumblebees.

Trained by Mario to dance the Tari Oleg Tamblingan were the 14-year-old IGA Raka Rasmi and 26-year-old I Sampih from Gianyar, whose talents as a pre-teen dancer were first highlighted by Canadian composer Colin McPhee in his 1930 book “A House in Bali.”

The 1953 world tour of Balinese dancers and musicians is recorded in John Coast’s book “Dancing Out of Bali” where IGA Raka Rasmi appears on the cover. That tour brought the wide-eyed group of dancers and musicians to a number of European capitals including Paris, and the USA where they appeared on Broadway and made a memorable nationwide television appearance on Ed Sullivan’s “The Toast of the Town.”

Her reputation sealed as a leading proponent of Balinese dance, IGA Raka Rasmi spent a life-long career dancing and teaching with visits to China (1959), Pakistan (1964), Japan (1964), Australia (1971), Europe (1971), USA (1982 and Singapore (1996).

In a 2008 interview IGA Raka Rasmi said: “Age can approach its twilight; but the human spirit cannot be extinguished.”

I Gusti Ayu Raya Rasmi will be cremated at the Mumbul Crematorium in South Badung on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

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