Bali Dance Kecak will not be presented in your hotel; in the south of Bali there are several places that offer this unique glimpse into the culture. Today the important temples of Tanah Lot and Uluwatu have constructed amphitheaters next to them with incredible views over the stage, the ocean and the sunset. Kecak dance and the visit of one of these temples make for a perfect afternoon excursion .
In the nineteen thirties Walter Spies and other budding artists discovered the beautiful tropical paradise of Bali with its exceptional culture and religion. They were spellbound by the friendly people and the magical expressive arts like music, dance, sculpture and painting and in turn made themselves a name by painting what they saw. They also inspired new ideas like the Kecak Dance.
It is a mixture of the sacred trance dances performed at night in villages to extol the world of spirits and ask for their help and support. What today we call a fire dance, men in trance who walk and run over blazing coal without getting hurt is one of them and Sanghyang Dedari young girl dancers under the same spell.
We went to Uluwatu Temple and took some video shots there, watch it on YouTube to see more videos
One of these dances just uses male voices for pace, rhythm and melody. The goal of both artistic expressions is to connect to ancestor or god spirits to receive guidance and support for the community. I had the great opportunity to watch these dances when I worked in Bali many many years ago.
Today aspects of these two dances are combined to form the Ketcak Dance. Just before sunset a group of men dressed in black and white sarongs sit in a circle and start their cak, cak, cak and wush. In come the dancers in colorful costumes and present the romantic story of prince Rama and his beloved wife Shinta. While it is getting dark the atmosphere gets more and more mystical while the story develops around a lit candelabrum inside the circle with the male voices resounding.
The mood is magical while it gets darker and the drama builds up, and yet the Balinese always have a way to incorporate some human traits and laughter; here mostly presented by the white monkey king Hanoman and his army.
Do not come late! The streets that lead into both temples are quite narrow and will be crowded just before sunset. Plan to be there by four in the afternoon and stroll around, there is plenty to see at both temples. These spots are great for photos. There are plenty of vendors if you need a drink and a snack. If you are short of time and in a rush, please watch this dance at GWK positioned at about the middle of the Peninsula of Nusa Dua and has plenty of attractions too.
We have witnessed all of this just recently at Uluwatu Temple and are appalled at the lack of respect and interest of many tourists. Balinese are very graceful toward tourists who do not know how to behave. I worry though that the Balinese will not keep up the artistic quality of these performances if travelers do not care and are un-respectful of this unique art form. So please, if you read this, please please make sure you are there in time and will stay until the end; or decide to not watch the performance that day. Thank you very much!
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