I am spending this month in Bali with a group of 17 participants in Dell'Arte International's annual Study Abroad: Bali program This is my 12th trip to Bali and while I don't think there is a word for 'ensemble' in either Bahasa Indonesia or the Balinese language, this is a place where daily practice models ensemble in so many ways. I don't just mean the good ways--like the cooperative work ethic, multi-disciplinary artists, collective decision making--I also mean the every day realities of collaborative effort, with the small jealousies, compromises, delays, and even the occasional chaos that accompany community living.
Many of my group choose to rent motorbikes here during their month of study, even though they've had no experience riding motorbikes. They feel secure in the doing, even though the traffic here crowds the roads, there's too many cars, too many motorbikes, and it can seem like a madhouse. What makes them feel secure is the lack of aggression on the road--if someone honks at you, it's only to let you know they are going to pass you, not because they are impatient or angry with you. Vast streams of traffic flow around small obstacles, people cut in and out, but again, it's with that 'ensemble' goal of making the whole thing work rather than trying to beat out the other guy to show you're tough or king of the road. Rush hour is no more fun than at home and riding a bike is omg certainly dangerous, but the idea of a 'national traffic ensemble' is a fine thing to experience