Photographic Documentary of Balinese Ramayana Dance in Ubud Bali

Balinese Dance is a complex art form that cannot fail to capture the attention of those who appreciate beauty. It is an explosive performance plagued with creativity and artistic work, which manifests not only in the choreography, but in the music, wardrobe, makeup, scenery and acting abilities of the dancers.

There are many different styles of Balinese Dances but they all originated from a blend of Indian epics, court stories and Javanese culture.


Kecak Bali Dance, Scene from the Ramayana

Kecak Fire & Trance Dance, one of the multiple styles of Balinese Dances. This image captures the moment in which the unusual golden deer makes its appearance. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Kecak Fire & Trance Dance, one of the multiple styles of Balinese Dances. This image captures the moment in which the unusual golden deer makes its appearance. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Kecak Fire & Trance Dance

The Kecak Fire & Trance Dance is based on Indian mythology, particularly the Ramayana, from which the epic poem of King Rama was picked as inspiration for the Complex Dance.

In the epic story, King Rama was exiled from court and takes refuge in the forest, where he lived with his wife Dewi Sita and his brother Laksamana. Once in the forest, Dewi Sita sees a strange golden deer by which she is mystified, and asks his husband to hunt it for her.

While the King is away on his mission, Dewi Sita is kidnapped by the Ogre King Rahwana and makes her his prisoner. Rama rescues his wife by making an alliance with the monkey army, led by the white monkey Hanoman, and defeating the Ogre King.


How the Balinese Dance "Kecak" Begins

The performance starts with a beautifully decorated stage, composed mainly of mythological religious items, embellished with yellow and pink petals, and illuminated only by warm and cozy candle light. Just before the dance starts, a man comes into the stage and lights an oil lamp chandelier around which the artists dance. First up, a hundred bare breasted men enter the stage and sit in circle around the chandelier. They are the choir that puts sound to the performance, using their bodies to create percussion music, claps and chak-chak noises; progressively, they start dancing to the rhythmic sound of their own voices, their hands raised to the sky and bodies shaking in unison.


Sequenced Images of Kecak Balinese Dance Performed at Local Theater in Ubud, Indonesia

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The oil lamp chandelier around which the dancers perform the Kecak Dance.  Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Choir dancing to the rhythmic sound of their own voices, their hands raised to the sky and bodies shaking in unison. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Female dancers holding curious Indian-like positions with their hands and fingers. Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. The Bali dance is performed within the circle formed by the choir of a hundred men.  Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.King Rama beautifully dressed in colorful and detailed attire. Kecak Balinese Dance. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.White monkey Hanoman, Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Court dancers at Ogre King Rahwana's Palace. Balinese Dance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Ogre King Rahwana with his prisoner Dewi Sita (King Rama's wife).  Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Haute Couture, Makeup and Accessories used in the Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.King Rama's wife Dewi Sita is rescued. Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
The oil lamp chandelier around which the dancers perform the Kecak Dance.  Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
The oil lamp chandelier around which the dancers perform the Kecak Dance. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Choir dancing to the rhythmic sound of their own voices, their hands raised to the sky and bodies shaking in unison. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Choir dancing to the rhythmic sound of their own voices, their hands raised to the sky and bodies shaking in unison. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Female dancers holding curious Indian-like positions with their hands and fingers. Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Female dancers holding curious Indian-like positions with their hands and fingers. Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
The Bali dance is performed within the circle formed by the choir of a hundred men.  Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
The Bali dance is performed within the circle formed by the choir of a hundred men. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
King Rama beautifully dressed in colorful and detailed attire. Kecak Balinese Dance. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
King Rama beautifully dressed in colorful and detailed attire. Kecak Balinese Dance. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
White monkey Hanoman, Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
White monkey Hanoman, Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Court dancers at Ogre King Rahwana's Palace. Balinese Dance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Court dancers at Ogre King Rahwana's Palace. Balinese Dance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Ogre King Rahwana with his prisoner Dewi Sita (King Rama's wife).  Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Ogre King Rahwana with his prisoner Dewi Sita (King Rama's wife). Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Haute Couture, Makeup and Accessories used in the Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Haute Couture, Makeup and Accessories used in the Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
King Rama's wife Dewi Sita is rescued. Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
King Rama's wife Dewi Sita is rescued. Kecak Fire & Trance performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Visit Bali and Witness the Energetic Kecak Balinese Dance

Kecak Peculiarities & Special Beauty

After some intense prayer to the gods, the personification of King Rama´s epic story begins with the protagonists of the story moving and dancing around the chandelier. Female characters hold curious Indian-like positions with their hands and fingers and move their very expressive eyes in traditional Ramayana style. Male characters move in stronger more abrupt ways, specially the monkey army fellows, who jump from one extreme to the other. In general, Kecak is a fully energized dynamic dance.

The beauty of Balinese Kecak dance is hugely enhanced by the wonderfully detailed, colorful and extravagant wardrobe of the performers, which wear layer after layer of complex haute couture, including coats, belts, headdresses, masks, hats, arm, forearm and chest ornaments, wrists and ankle bracelets, as well as a heavy coat of exaggerated makeup that take you into a whole different fantasy world of surreal characters.


Legong Dancer

In Legong Balinese Dance, musicians sit in the stage and play live music while the dancers perform. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
In Legong Balinese Dance, musicians sit in the stage and play live music while the dancers perform. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Legong Balinese Dance

The Legong Dance is a more graceful and elegant dance; much softer and less explosive than the previous one. The performers are equally attired in beautiful, embroidered and colorful garments, and wear similar ornaments, jewelry, masks, hats and makeup. Characters are also inspired in Indian mythology but this time, their performances and movements are accompanied by live music played by musicians sitting in the stage. Music is played with traditional Balinese percussion instruments, such as the Balinese Gamelan.

The Legong dance is characterized by complex postures, movements and mimicry that take years to master. Dancers have to synchronize their eyes, feet, toes, legs, hips, arms, hands and fingers and make sometimes unnatural, difficult positions. The art in each element of the performance is an ode to creativity and full powered imagination.


Captured Moments of a Legong Performance in Ubud, Bali

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In Legong, hands & fingers movements, as well as face expressions, are hugely emphasized. Legong Dance Performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Fantastically bizarre character at the Legong Dance Performance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. If you are going to visit Bali, don't miss the beautiful Balinese Dance.  Legong Dance Performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Legong dancers masterfully move every body part during their performance, including their eyes. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
In Legong, hands & fingers movements, as well as face expressions, are hugely emphasized. Legong Dance Performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
In Legong, hands & fingers movements, as well as face expressions, are hugely emphasized. Legong Dance Performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Fantastically bizarre character at the Legong Dance Performance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Fantastically bizarre character at the Legong Dance Performance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
If you are going to visit Bali, don't miss the beautiful Balinese Dance.  Legong Dance Performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
If you are going to visit Bali, don't miss the beautiful Balinese Dance. Legong Dance Performance, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Legong dancers masterfully move every body part during their performance, including their eyes. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Legong dancers masterfully move every body part during their performance, including their eyes. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Balinese Dances are performed all throughout Bali, the performances here documented took place in the beautiful mountain town of Ubud and go highly recommended.


Bali Map

show route and directions
A markerUbud, Indonesia -
[get directions]

B markerKuta, Indonesia -
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Bali Dance Literature

Balinese Dance, Drama & Music: A Guide to the Performing Arts of Bali
Balinese Dance, Drama & Music: A Guide to the Performing Arts of Bali

If you would like to read more about Balinese performing arts, this is a highly rated option to document yourself with.

 

Travel Guides

Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok (Regional Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok (Regional Travel Guide)

If you have particularly chosen to visit Bali, this guide is the best option.

 
Lonely Planet Southeast Asia: On a Shoestring (Shoestring Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Southeast Asia: On a Shoestring (Shoestring Travel Guide)

If you are backpacking through Southeast Asia, this guide is my personal recommendation.

 

More by this Author


Comments on Balinese Dances, Kecak & Legong 10 comments

NMLady profile image

NMLady 5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

WOW! This was great. My daughter-in-law by marriage is from Banjar. This was such a nice explanation! Enjoyed this!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Hi NMLady, thanks for your kind comments. I am glad you enjoyed it!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

..a most definitive and essential hub tribute to the art and the history of Balinese Dance and because I love so many different styles of dance I will be most honored and proud to post this most beautiful hub of yours to my Facebook page with a direct link back here.

lake erie time ontario canada 5:54am


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Amazing hub,I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading many more by you.

Take care and have a great weekend.

Eiddwen.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Epigramman, thanks so much for dropping by and writing such nice comments, I am very glad you enjoyed this hub (that is the object really) and that you are willing to share it with others, the honor is mine.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Eiddwen, thanks for your kind comments, I appreciate them very much. It's very nice to know that you enjoyed this hub and I will gladly share everything I write with you.

Have an excellent weekend you too!


carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

hey claudia this is such a great hub about such a beautiful art and a noteworthy danceform! loved it and voted up!

carrie


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Hi Carrie, thanks for your note; I am glad you liked it! I was flabbergasted when I saw this dance and thought it was very worth sharing.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

How splendid! Balinese dance is... all colors of gorgeous! I loved experiencing it through your Hub, though I would love to see a performance in person someday, too!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Simone, I am glad you liked this hub and the colorful artistry it portrays. I don’t know why Balinese dance is not so well known throughout the world but it sure is a shame. Thanks for taking the time to read this documentary.

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