We caught up with a parting luminary of Bali’s musical and modern dance choreography landscape – Kamau – for his perspectives on the lights and darks of this island as he embarks on another odyssey around the world before returning to his homeland… Images by Suki Zoe.
So Kamau, last time to Bali?
Of course not, I’ll return to Bali at some point, it is (a) home and I have loved ones here. My departure comes from a knowing that there is a new level of experience, learning and expression which life is calling me into and the catalysts for that new level are not in Bali.
How do your first impressions compare with your current perspective?
Bali is Bali. The same heightened flow of spiritual energy I initially experienced when I arrived is still very much present. There is also still a natural beauty and openness to the island, you just have to make more of an effort to experience it.
A strong element of greed, exploitation and carelessness has infiltrated. A wave of individuals with purely selfish, capitalistic motivations arrived and now proliferate the island. The takers seem to be now outnumbering the givers. But ultimately, this is also a part of the karmic, collective experience and learning process of Bali.
Growing up, who were your strongest influences – musical family? Mentors or influences that pop up in your mind?
First, my mother, who was deep in the arts scene when I was young. Post skateboarding, when I began diving deep into dance and rap and such, I was inspired by my crew and friends in the Hiphop and poetry scene of The Bay Area, California
You have been able to navigate between the live music and local choreography circles here, what have you learned the most from your time here?
Talent without a long range, holistic vision and steady movement towards manifeating that vision, leads to a stagnation of that talent and a life working for someone else. The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is very true. We cannot force anyone (or anyplace) to take on something they are not ready for or do not want. And we definitely, should not lose sight of our own vision trying to. Those who are ready, let’s go. Those who are not, no worries, but the wave will not wait for you.
Will you continue with your book writing and music productions?
Of course, art is my being.
Where are you looking to go from here and why?
Japan is the first extended stop. I have loved that place for lifetimes. I’ve been there five times already, but never for longer than a week, so this time I will stay for a month; taking in the nature and turning the focus inward for a ten-day Vippasana meditation retreat. After Japan, to Vietnam by train with Tevia Feng, my Qi Gong instructor, then am going to spin and do some workshops in Singapore, before heading to Melbourne. We’ll see where I’m called to after that.
As an American, how do you see the current state of affairs there?
The state of affairs is ripe with opportunity to shift things for the betterment or to the deteriment. All that which has been held in the shadows of history; those social ills that have been deeply ingrained; those wounds that have never been atoned for and healed, is being brought to light. It’s about to get real interesting, we haven’t seen the true intensity of what is on the table yet, but we will.
What would you like to see happen most for Bali’s future?
I would love for the collective consciousness of Bali to realize it can be a true beacon of balance and harmonious living for the world. That the prime jewel of the island is the people and culture, not fancy hotels, bars and nightclubs. At the same time, it’s almost 2018 and culture evolves. The beauty of Balinese traditions must be preserved, and simultaneously, those aspects of tradition that hold back the growth of the younger generation’s creativity and expression must be refined.
I would love to see Bali return to a place where people came to experience arts and culture, and not in some cookie-cutter-cater to tourist ways, I mean a place for true progressive art, music and dance presentations that honor the traditional and the contemporary, presentations that are unique and thought provoking and fearless. It most definitely exists; it needs to be holistically supported.
I would love to see those individuals who truly love and contribute to Bali and seek to serve the community, to have an opportunity to do so with less bureaucratic madness.
I would love see more people return to Bali who ask, “What can I give, what can I offer?”instead of “Look what I can get” or “I’m taking this…” or “I just got..”. Lofty vision, I know… But it is possible. A LOT of things beyond my power must happen, but it is possible.
What’s your dream?
Waking up to a new harmonious collective experience on this planet.
“If you release what is within you, what you release will save you. If you do not release what is within you, what you do not release will destroy you.” Peace and love Bali. You can follow along with my journeys from Instagram: @kamauabayomi