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Kecak Dance, Bali, Bali Overview

Also known as the Ramayana monkey chant, is based on the story of Ramayana and is performed in the temples in Bali. The performance includes 150 performers dancing in a circle chanting chak, moving their hands, wearing checked clothes around their waists.

Kecak is a music drama dance developed in the 1930s in Bali. Since its creation it was solely performed by men, but the for the first time in 2006 it was performed by the first ever women’s Kecak group. The Kecak dance depicts the battle of Ramayana, in which the monkeys led by Hanuman help Lord Rama in the fight against the evil Ravana. 

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About the Kecak Dance

Kecak also includes an exorcism dance. Kecak was just a Trance until the 1930s when Walter Spies adapted a drama version including a dance for the western tourist audience. The Kecak dance is performed  by 50-150 dancers who dance in a circle around the traditional Balinese coconut oil lamp. 

First moving to the left and then to the right chanting chak in a slow rhythm, with speeding up by lifting their hands in the air, the dancers play the role of the Rama’s troops and Ravana’s troops representing the warfront for a duration of one hour. The story begins with the exile of Rama and Sita ending with the battle. 

What makes this dance unique is that there is no use of backdrops, no musical instrument used in this dance except for the voiced orchestra led by a person indicating the high and low notes who is the narrator as well. The dancers are divided into two, the main chanters and the main dancers who play the role of Rama, Sita and others.

The Trance Ritual is often accompanied with the burning of Hanuman, where the dancers enter the trance state for fire kicking dance, after getting blessings from the priest, and they do not feel the pain caused by the fire. The best time to watch the Kecak dance is the night time.

Where to See the Kecak Dance

If you want to see this dance you can head to any of the famous Hindu temples. The performance at Uluwatu Temple starts at sunset, the performance at GWK Cultural Park is at 6:30pm at the park’s amphitheater, at Batu Bulan, the performance is between 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Taman Kaja Village in Ubud, the performance is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7:30pm.

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