Kecak Dance : A Fiery Culture of Balinese

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Kecak Dance : A Fiery Culture of Balinese

21 March 2024Blog

Often called the “Monkey Chant” or “Fire Dance,” Kecak stands out among traditional dances by blending vocal chanting, intricate costumes, and a beautiful storyline deeply rooted in the rich history of the Island of the Gods.

This article will dive into the origins, the performance of kecak dance, uniqueness aspect of it and opening a portal for you into the soul of balinese culture.

Source : instagram.com/widianta_art

The Origins of Kecak Dance

The Kecak Dance, originated in the 1930s from the innovative result of collaboration between German artist Walter Spies and Balinese dancer Wayan Limbak. Its inspiration came from the traditional sacred Balinese dance of Sanghyang, a deeply spiritual dance that revolves around the belief in an invisible force known as hyang(meaning god or deity). That processes the dancer and puts the dancer into a trance-like state. It is said that both of them became deeply interested in the Sanghyang ritual, and so they reimagined a traditional trance ritual, adding elements of the Hindu epic Ramayana to create a performance that was both entrancing and narratively rich. They took their creation on an international tour that helped make the dance as well known as it is today.

The Performence

The performers of the kecak dance enter the stage wearing black and white Balinese sarongs in a united chorus of “chak, chak, chak”s. As the performance starts, the performers form and settle into a circle, as the harmonious choir goes on, guided by a lead soloist who controls the tempo, volume, and pitch of the group. The men lead the highs and lows of the performance in the absence of traditional instruments to represent different characters as they enter and leave the scene.

The performance of Ramayana Saga starts with the dancers joining the stage playing characters of the story; Rama, Shinta, Laksmana, Rahwana, Hanoman, Sugriwa, and other characters. The performer’s “chak” reaches its highest as the dance comes to an end.

kecak dance in bali

Source : Facebook

The Story of Kecak Dance

In the story Prince Rama, accompanied by his wife Shinta and brother Lakshmana exiled  into a forest. The evil demon king Rahwana becomes captivated by Shinta’s beauty. Abducts her to his kingdom in Lanka.

Distraught, by Shintas disappearance Rama sends Laksmana to find his friend Sugiwa, and the king of the Monkey kingdom then sends his white monkey, named Hanuman, Rama then enlists the aid of the monkey deity Hanuman and his army of monkeys to rescue her. The narrative showcases moments such as Shinta’s kidnapping, Rama’s anguish, the quest for Shinta and the grand battle. Where Rama and his comrades confront Rahwana army.

The tale reaches the climax when Rahwana’s troops captured Hanuman and placed him in the encircling fire to burn him alive. Hanuman escapes instead of being burned alive and burns Rahwana’s palace. The battle then continues, with Rama, Sugriwa, and Hanuman emerging victorious over Rahwana. Rama joyfully reunites with Shinta.

Where to see Kecak Dance in Bali

So, what do you think about kecak dance? Fascinating isn’t it, we have compiled places where you can visit and watch the performance of kecak dance in Bali.

Uluwatu Temple

Imagine the harmonious “chak chak chak” combined with sunset, smell and the view of the sea. Uluwatu Temple is the number one in our list and one of the most beautiful places to watch kecak dance in bali. The Kecak dance is performed daily in uluwatu open stage at 6:00pm to 7:00pm local time. Except on nyepi day and the day before it.

Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDv1CcCVGsM

GWK Cultural Park

GWK Cultural Park, the home of the tallest and the most majestic statue in the world. Kecak dance in GWK Cultural park featured other performances such as Ogoh-ogoh that represent the mythical creature Garuda. It performed daily at Lotus Pond at 6:00pm local time.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7B0NuJT0u0

Pura Dalem Ubud

Pura Dalem Ubud gives a different atmosphere compared to other temples. This place is temple devoted to Rangda, the Queen of Demons. She embodies malevolence and is typically portrayed with sagging breasts, sharp fangs, and disheveled hair. The Kecak Dance in Pura Dalem Ubud usually performed at evening 7:30pm local time every Monday and Friday.

Youtube ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u0IkqIVruY

A Testament to Balinese Culture

The Kecak Dance, in Bali showcases the island’s richness beautifully. With its blend of narrative, music, and dance it provides a glimpse into the artistic heritage that shapes culture. Embraced by locals and captivating for tourists the Kecak Dance remains a mesmerizing experience, for all who witness its enchantment. Planning to watch Kecak Dance and stay around Nusa Dua Bali? Hotel Nikko Benoa Beach is the best while you explore Dance in Bali.

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