Slamat Sore or Good evening everyone!
Bali Bali Bali…What do you hear in your head when you think of the word Bali? ..sounds of birds? sounds of waves? or maybe cars on a busy road? For me , I hear the sound of traditional Bali dance music when I think of the word Bali. And when you are there their traditional music will always be heard and can’t be missed!
Bali is well known to preserve their traditional dances and music as part of their culture and religious ceremony. The dancers practice and learn each step since young age. This keeps ever single movement mesmerizing to watch because each movement is well thought of to tell the tale that they wish to portray.
My first experience in watching a Balinese dance is by the beautiful cliff at Uluwatu temple,as seen in the featured picture of my previous post. Yes, I had the chance to watch a beautiful Balinese dance next to that! and to add more, the show took place just before sunset! So you can imagine the transition of the dance background as the time goes on to sunset. Simply breathtaking!
My first Balinese dance experience is the ‘Kecak’ dance. So what is this ‘Kecak’ dance?
Initially my impression of any Balinese dance is what I have always been watching in documentaries. So I thought yes, I will be watching a dance where the performers dance with their eyes going left and right following the beat of the ‘Gamelan’ (The ‘Gamelan’ is the bronze percussion that is being used in traditional Balinese music).
During the day of the performance, I remember vividly we were kind of late.We had to rush from our resort hopping activity (which I will write about later covering :”Things to do in Bali!”) to catch the show. When we reach there,we found out that the stage was located at a higher elevation than the drop off point! which meant more stair climbing! It did not get any easier to know that we need to go through an area in which I have read where the cheeky monkeys lived! These cheeky monkeys are well known to not fear people and they sometimes enjoy taking things from or off you!
Before we enter the temple area, we were ask to to tie a cloth or a sash around our waist and if you are wearing any shorts, sarong will be given to cover up the legs. After putting everything on, it was time to enter the temple area where the monkeys lived. Initially we were hesitating for awhile at the entrance especially after having heard on how naughty and cheeky these monkeys can be.A guy noticed our hesitation and actually offered to help shoo away the monkeys but with a fee. We thought about it for awhile but politely decline after.
So 4 ‘brave’ girls entered the area and held each other tightly fearing the cheeky monkeys will appear.After walking for a couple of minute..hmm no signs of them.. maybe it was their off day or they have filled up their ‘be cheeky with a tourist’ quota for the day and.. plus we were late! After surviving that, we rushed up the stairs to get the performance area…and when we reached there.. oh oh all the seats were taken!
The seating arrangements were like the stadium seating arrangement. So we sat down on the floor and waited . The space was not as big as I thought and since there were soo many people that day, it was completely packed leaving little space in centre.Was thinking how the dance is going to be and thought it should be okay if it is just a couple of people performing at once especially with the limited space left.
Suddenly a group of men with flowers on their ear came in while making sounds ‘Cak! Cak! Cak!’. They chant the same words repeatedly but in a rhythmic manner. Endless number of men enter and quickly filled up any space that was left and sat down while still chanting the sounds of ‘Cak Cak Cak,Ke Cak!’. They sat just right in front of us..like super close!
As interesting the rhythm of ‘Cak Cak Cak’ was, with beautiful sky setting turning from blue to orange-y red, I was however not comfortable with the scent of B.O. everytime the arms were raised to follow the beat of the song they were chanting.Ohhh the price you pay for being late !
Nevertheless it doesn’t hinder us from enjoying more of the performance when the main characters came in with their pretty decorated dance outfit. The main performance is a musical drama without using any instruments and is dependent on the chants of ‘Cak Cak Cak’. The Kecak dance depict the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of Princess Sita which is a tale taken from the Hindu epic Ramayana.
While the performance went on it was accompanied with the beautiful sunset by the horizon in the background. When night approach, the fire dance episode took place to portray the fight between Prince Rama against the demon that captured the Princess.
The performance ended beautifully when the Prince won over the Demon and the ‘Cak Cak Cak’ rhythm slowed down marking the end of the night..and I was honestly relieved as well that now I can finally have my share of fresh air !
So don’t miss the dance when you are in Bali and make sure you arrive early get a good seat for great scenery and smell too!
See you until next time! 🙂
Did you know that Kecak dance was originally a trance dance to repel evil spirits and was a form of exorcism?