Memories of Balinese Dance


Balinese dance makes use of highly stylized movements.

Balinese dance makes use of highly stylized movements.

Ubud made an impression so indelible that even amid the beauty of Amed, I could still vividly recall the spectacle of traditional Balinese dance.

Percussive instruments, including a variety of chimes, provided the otherwordly, dreamlike soundtrack to an elaborately costumed series of movements based in Hindu legend and folklore. The Ramayana, one of the faith’s principle texts, figures prominently here.

Though I had heard of the kecak (monkey) dance, I was unprepared for the fierceness and unparalleled emotional quality in the choreographed telling of kidnappings, revenge, betrayal and redemption. Nothing like the residents of monkey forests in Sangeh or Ubud, these cast members, portrayed by dancers unrecognizable to their own kin, formed a formidable army.

Other dramatis personae included a queen, a dragon, a witch and, of course, a hero figured who prominently throughout.

Not having had a program or any previous knowledge of the stories behind the individual dances, I was left to watch the characters swarm around each other in a storytelling ritual that felt modern in its conceptualization yet timeless in its intricacies and resonance.

From having witnessed cockfighting to Bali cowboys, the unusual civet coffee to strange Indonesia fruit and much, much more, it occurs to me that I don’t really want to leave.

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4 Responses to “Memories of Balinese Dance”

  1. Nice post! this dance very mush similar to Indian kathak.

  2. To watch a really stunning Kecak dance, u need to go to the Temple at Uluwatu and see it as the sun sets in the distance. It’s magical and beats, imho, the sunset at Tanah Lot,

    Btw, may I know if your lodgings at Ubud has ensuite bathroom or did u have to share with others?

    • If only I had more time! My Ubud homestay, the Dewi Antara Homestay, had rooms with private bathrooms. Thanks for asking!

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