Bali knows how to party. But what’s more, the Island of the Gods knows how to bring people together to have a good time and be healthy while rallying behind important causes.
Now in its fifth year, the BaliSpirit Festival is proving to be a leader of the rapidly growing holistic travel market. The annual event offers more than 100 yoga, dance and music workshops, as well as meditation classes, information on alternative medicine and healing practices, as well as nightly world music concerts.
The concept for the festival arose after the Bali bombings in 2002 and the subsequent economic tailspin that plunged the island into recession.
“This terrible tragedy spurred me to think about how we can pull together to heal and support each other through a difficult time,” said event cofounder Meghan Pappenheim. “I decided that a holistic directory would not only support the economy but would only shift the focus of who Bali attracts — mindful people who are seeking growth and who can honor the best of what Bali has to offer with their pilgrimages here.”
Running over five days and four nights up to last Sunday, the event attracted masters, experts and performers from around the world. The daytime programs were set in the beautiful grounds of the Bali Purnati Center for the Arts in Batuan, while the evening concerts were held at the ARMA Museum & Resort in Ubud.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival was the live music lineup, said to be the most diverse and electrifying in the festival’s five-year history.
“No other celebration attracts this kind of world talent to Bali,” said cofounder and musical director Robert Weber.
Headlining the event was African musician Rocky Dawuni, hip-hop group Luminaries and Bhangra electronic pioneers Delhi to Dublin.
South American percussion maestro Pepe Danza performed an exciting and hypnotic set on opening night that had the crowd in a sweating, dancing frenzy.
The next night, American Dave Stringer’s call-and-response Kirtan, a revived ancient Indian chanting practice, made everyone in the audience a backing singer, while the third night saw the beautiful Indian classical dancer Rukmini Vijayakumar sweep the crowd off their feet with her performance of ritual-inspired dances.
A collaborative musical and dance performance on the fourth night by Balinese groups Kobagi Kecak and the Aerial Crew offered a dynamic, dramatic and humorous mix of traditional and modern dance forms and highlighted the creative prowess that the Balinese are famous for. The fusion of kecak and jengek dances along with breakdancing proved to be an audience favorite, and showed that the richness of creative spirit is thriving in Bali today.
The experts in holistic living and yoga invited to the festival were also impressive, including the world-renowned American Ashtanga yoga teacher and shaman Danny Paradise.