Claire Fassnacht is a Balinese gamelan musician and dancer from Chicago, IL who channels her passion for Balinese music and culture through ensemble leadership and participation, dance workshops and lessons and cultural lectures. Most recently she founded the Chicago Balinese Gamelan ensemble with the support of Pak Nyoman Mahartayasa, Pak Asnawa Tutde and High Concept Labs. Visit the Chicago Balinese Gamelan tab of this site for more information.
Since beginning her gamelan studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 2011, Claire has performed as a musician and dancer with several reputable gamelan ensembles in the U.S. and Bali. Between 2013-2015, she spent a year and half living in Bali, Indonesia as a Darmasiswa fellow, studying traditional Balinese gamelan and dance. In 2015 she directed chamber group Gamelan Cita Suara to perform at The Morton Arboretum’s Destination Asia music festival. For the past two years, Claire was musician and Dance Coordinator with MIT’s Gamelan Galak Tika in Boston, MA. In addition to her Balinese gamelan training, Claire studies and performs Javanese gamelan and dance.
Claire holds a Master’s degree in Arts Administration from Boston University.
"Claire is a truly fantastic teacher. She has an incredible eye for detail, wonderful musicality, and a way of presenting the material that is easy to digest without sacrificing proper technique. It can be intimidating to try out a new dance form but Claire creates a class atmosphere that is warm and inviting. I am grateful to have had an opportunity to study under such an accomplished instructor."
-Danielle Meijer, Director of Aleph World Fusion Dance
What is a gamelan?
The orchestra of gongs, metallophones, drums and bamboo flutes that make up Indonesian gamelan music has inspired and influenced composers worldwide for its stunning sound and vivacious rhythms. The magnificent volume and finesse of gamelan is incomparable. Sweeping over miles of rice paddies, gamelan is used in Bali as a method of religious worship, celebration and mourning rituals. The size of a gamelan ensemble can vary from 2 to 30 people.
"The musicians are said to marry their instruments and fellow performers: and the performers communicate intimately in every nuance of movement and sound, rhythm, tempo, and emotion. The musicians play as fast as they can, between each others’ beats, while the low-toned kebyar gong outlines the structure." –Gamelan Sekar Jaya