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Trailblazing Balinese dance pioneer, Islene Pinder, founding director of BALAM Dance Theatre (BALAM), succumbed to pancreatic cancer on June 17, 2012. A Lehman College-City of New York University dance professor from 1968 to 1998, Pinder’s long-term interest with Balinese dance and culture began upon seeing a touring troupe of Balinese dancers and musicians perform in New York City.
At Lehman College, she developed Pinder fundamentals, a systematic instructional method created to teach and present Balinese dance to Western students. She received numerous research awards from the PSC-CUNY Research Award Program for her groundbreaking study, Movement Patterns Seen in Balinese Mothers and Babies and Balinese Dance, using the Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP), a psycho-analytical system of movement analysis.
For 37 years, Pinder documented on film and video some of Bali’s greatest dancers and captured many of the culture’s daily rituals and important festivals. Pinder’s movement analyst eye drew her to many unique, meaningful moments as a cultural anthropologist, rooted in a body-movement perspective. Her own physical understanding of Balinese dance gave her deep insight and she compiled a comprehensive library of Balinese life and dance, culminating in the 45-minute video documentary, Isle of Bali, created specifically for educational purposes to teach students and people of all ages in school and college classrooms, lecture halls, libraries, museums, and community centers in the West.
BALAM Dance Theatre Founded
Pinder founded the non-profit dance company BALAM Dance Theatre in 1979 with the explicit goals of bringing the beauty and detailed skills of Balinese dance to the greater New York community and exploring the fusion of Balinese and contemporary dance styles. Under her leadership, the company performed in Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and the United States.
As the founding director of BALAM from its inception until her death, the company collaborated with the Sanggar Semara Ratih many times, touring throughout the remote villages of Bali, as well as participating in the Second International Dance Festival at Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI): College of the Performing Arts in Denpasar, Bali. On BALAM’s Bali Tour 2010, Pinder returned to the stage in the comedic masked fantasy, Harlequin’s Charade, dancing excerpts that referenced her favorite traditional Balinese dance roles, Baris and Jauk.
A memorial service was held on Tuesday, June 19 at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in New York City, and she was laid to rest at the New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, New York. Her sister, Annette Michaels, cousin, Ron Boden, their families, and an extended family survive her.
At the family’s request, contributions in her memory should be made to BALAM Dance Theatre, 319 West 18th Street, Apt. 4C, New York, New York 10011.
For further information, call 646-361-9183 or visit BALAM Dance Theatre on the web at http://www.balamdance.org
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