Bali is an island with hundreds of amazing things, including its traditional Balinese dances. There are dozens of Balinese dances, such as Pendet dance, Butterflies dance, and Legong dance. But the most popular Balinese dance are Barong and Kecak dance. These dances are theatrical act about story of fight between good and evil (Barong dance) and Ramayana epic story (Kecak dance). Here Travelicious gives you review about the two most amazing Balinese dances.
Most Amazing Balinese Dances
Barong dance is one of Balinese dance and a heritage of Bali culture before Hinduism. Barong is come from word bahruang which is a mythological creature with magic power and believed as a protector. Barong is pictured as four legged or two legged animal or even human with magical power. The Barong mask is made from a special wood from sacred tree and considered as sacred item by Balinese.
The story of barong dance is about eternal fight between good and evil. Barong is the good guy fighting Rangda the evil. In the end of Barong dance, Keris dance is performed, where some men dancing around and stab themselves with keris (a traditional weapon of way double-end blade dagger) and can’t be hurt.
The opening act shows Barong and Ape met three masked men in the forest. One of these three men had a child eaten by a tiger. Being angry, they attacked Barong and they were fighting until one of those men’s nose bitten by Ape.
First act: Two dancers as Rangda’s minions looking for Dewi Kunti’s follower on their way to met their master.
Second act: Dewi Kunti’s follower arrived and one of Rangda’s minion change form to some kind of Devil and put an evil spirit inside Dewi Kunti’s follower, causing her to be furious.
Third act: Dewi Kunti appeared with her son Sadewa. Dewi Kunti promised Rangda to present Sadewa as an offering. Usually, Dewi Kunti will not give her son to Rangda, but Rangda already put evil spirit inside Dewi Kunti, causing her do awful things. Dewi Kunti gave Sadewa to her master. The master also already had evil spirit inside him and without any remorse brought Sadewa to the forest and tied him in front of Rangda’s palace.
Fourth act: God Siva arrived at the scene and gave Sadewa immortality without Rangda knowing about it. Rangda came and tried to kill Sadewa but he could not. Rangda surrendered to Sadewa and asked him forgiveness so he could reach nirvana. Sadewa granted this wish and Rangda got to nirvana.
Fifth act: When one of Rangda’s minions named Kalika met Sadewa to ask the same redemption, Sadewa refuses. This refusal made him angry and Kalika changed form to a boar and a bird as he fought Sadewa. Finally, Kalika changed again and become Rangda. Because Rangda was so powerful, Sadewa changed form into Barong that match Rangda’s power. So Barong and Rangda’s fight will last for eternity because neither of both can defeat the other. Final act is when Barong’s follower tried to help Barong with their keris, even so, Rangda could not be beaten.
You can watch Barong dance in Batubulan Village, about 10 km from Denpasar, and about one hour drive from Kuta. This dance are performed every day except at Nyepi or Silent Day. With duration of one hour, this performance is on the not-to-miss list when you visit Bali.
Kecak dance is a unique dance played by dozens of male dancers forming a circle, shouting “cak” with certain beat and with both arms in the air. Originally, Kecak dance is a musical form of voices to accompany Sahyang dance and only performed in temple as Sahyang dance considered to be sacred dance. But at 1930’s, and artist named Wayan Limbak combined Kecak dance with Ramayana story so it could be watched by many people.
The story of Ramayana consisted of four acts. First act: The story begin when Dewi Sita, Rama Dewa, and Rama’s brother Laksmana were in a forest. There, they meet with Rahwana who wanted to have Dewi Sita for himself because Sita resemble Goddess Widowati, a woman he has been looking for. To get Dewi Sita’s attention, Rahwana changed his minion to a gazelle. It worked because Sita asked Rama to hunt the gazelle for her. Rama chases the gazelle. Afraid of his brother’s safety, Laksmana searched for Rama after he was gone for a long time. So Sita was left all alone in the forest. Laksmana left Sita inside a magic circle which supposed to protect her,
Second act: when Rahwana changed his form into Bhagwan (old man), and asked Sita to give him some water. Sita then step outside the magic circle to gave the old man water, and so Bhagwan could take Sita. This kidnapping was witnessed by Garuda bird, Jatayu, a best friend of Rama. Jatayu tried to save Dewi Sita but failed because Rahwana was much stronger than he was. So Dewi Sita was taken to Alengka Pura, Rahwana palace.
Third act: Rama and Laksmana met the Hanoman. A powerful white ape who feel indebted to Rama. Hanoman and his ape army wanted to help Rama to save Dewi Sita. Rama gave his ring to Hanoman as a prove to Dewi Sita that Hanoman was sent by Rama to save her.
Fourth act: Because of his power, Hanoman was able to get inside Alengka Pura and met Sita. Sita was guarded by Trijata, Rahwana’s nephew. Hanoman gave Sita the ring and then went on to destroy Alengka Pura. In the dance it is pictured by the fire fire dance. Hanoman was chased by Rahwana’s raksasha soldiers and captured. They tried to burn Hanoman, but because he is so powerful, Hanoman was able to escape. The story end when Rama Dewa shot his magical arrow at Rahwana and defeat him. Rama and Sita could be united again at last.
The most famous Kecak dance performance is performed at Uluwatu temple. This dance show is really special because it is located in spectacular open stage. After the show went on for 20 minutes, it is the time for sunset and you can feel the romantic nuance. When it gets darker, the fire dance begin make the scene more amazing.
Best to watch Uluwatu Kecak dance when it is not raining. The show will still go on on other indoor stage if it is rain, but you will not get the perfect natural background.
Barong and Kecak dance are awesome Balinese dances are totally worth watching. With awesome costume, unique concept, and superb story, you cannot found these shows anywhere else in the world. Make sure you see these performance and have the ticket booked beforehand to make sure you get it. Have a great holiday!