KECAK DANCE AND FIRE DANCE ARE TRADITIONAL BALINESE DANCE FORMS THAT DESCRIBE STORIES FROM THE MYTHICAL FRAGMENTS OF THE RAMAYANA
The origin of Bali Kecak and Fire Dance Performance, and who first developed it is not known with certainty, but there is agreement that it first developed into a performing art in the village of Bona, Gianyar. Originally, Kecak was a song or music made up of a combination of sounds that formed melodies used to accompany the Sanghyang Dance, a sacred dance that was only performed in the temple. In the early 1930s, artists from the village of Bona, Gianyar, attempted to develop Kecak dance by taking the Ramayana story as a substitute for Sanghyang Dance. Over time, the dance was successfully performed in public as a performing art, with one part of the Ramayana story being the event of Dewi Sita being abducted by King Rahwana.
All you need to know about Kecak and Fire Dance
- Kecak and Fire Dance Location
- The Development of Kecak Dance in Bali
- Pattern of Kecak and Fire Dance
- Kecak and Fire Dance Performance Story
- How To Watch The Kecak and Fire Dance
Kecak and Fire Dance Location
Kecak Dance and Fire Dance performances can be found almost in every area that has strategic performance venues, such as Ubud, Tanah Lot, and the very famous one in Uluwatu. So, if you are planning to watch these performances, it is advisable to check the location of your hotel and look for the nearest performance venue. By choosing a strategic location, your journey will be shorter, and you can enjoy the show without too much travelling time. Kecak Dance and Fire Dance performances are always a major attraction for tourists, and usually the performances start in the afternoon. This creates a pleasant moment when watching these performances. Here are some Kecak Dance and Fire Dance performance locations that you can visit :
- Ubud: The Kecak Dance performance location in Ubud is at Dalem Taman Kaja Temple, with the address: Sri Wedari Street No.12, Ubud, Ubud District, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80571. The show starts at 19.00 – 20.00 WITA. The storyline takes the theme from the Ramayana, specifically about Hanoman who helps Rama in freeing Sita from Rahwana.
- Tanah Lot: Kecak Dance performances in Tanah Lot can be enjoyed near the beautiful Tanah Lot Temple tourist destination. The address is Tanah Lot Bali, Beraban, Kediri sub-district, Tabanan regency, Bali 82171. The performance hall has a great location with stunning views. The show starts at 18.00 – 19.00 WITA, and the story follows the Ramayana fragments.
- Uluwatu: This location is very much in demand and visited, as it is strategically located next to the charming Uluwatu Temple. Apart from enjoying the beautiful Kecak Dance, visitors can also watch the sunset from the theatre. The theatre is located close to Uluwatu Temple which is famous for its beautiful sunset view. The show starts from 18.00 – 19.00 WITA with a duration of 1 hour. The story still carries the theme of the mythical Ramayana story.
The Development of Kecak Dance in Bali
Kecak Dance in Bali has undergone development and change since the 1970s. These developments can be seen in the aspects of story and performance. In terms of story, the performance is no longer limited to one part of the Ramayana story, but includes various parts of the story. In addition, in terms of staging, performances do not only occur in one location, such as Bona Village, Gianyar, but also in other villages in Bali that are beginning to develop Kecak dance. Thus, throughout Bali, there are dozens of Kecak studios whose members usually come from banjar members. Activities such as Kecak dance festivals are often held in Bali, both by the government and by art schools in Bali. In 1979, the number of dancers performing in Kecak dance reached 500, with stories taken from the Mahabharata. However, the record was broken by the Tabanan Regency Government who organised a colossal Kecak dance involving 5000 dancers on 29 September 2006 in Tanah Lot, Tabanan, Bali. The record was very impressive, involving hundreds of dancers who gave amazing performances. It can be said that Kecak dance is in great demand by tourists who want to watch the beauty of traditional Balinese dance.
Pattern of Kecak and Fire Dance
As a Kecak dance performance, several important factors underpin the overall experience. In this dance performance, where the dance serves as an introduction to the story, music plays an important role in supporting the dancers’ movements. However, what sets Kecak dance apart is that the music is produced through the combined voices of the “cak” members, who number around 50-70, and all contribute a cappella. A leader will give the initial notes, others will be in charge of setting the pitch, while others will be soloists. There are also those who act as puppeteers behind the scenes to tell the story. In Kecak Dance, dancers do not follow the movements accompanied by the gamelan, so their body movements are more relaxed. The main focus is on the storyline and the chorus. Watching Kecak Dance is a meaningful experience, with the dancers performing stunningly and the story sprinkled with comedic elements. With a good and entertaining storyline, the show becomes very enjoyable and not boring.
Bali Kecak and Fire Dance Performance Story
Kecak stories are special because the musical accompaniment does not come from musical instruments or gamelan, but from human voices. A chorus of a hundred or more people seated in concentric circles move, stand, or even lie on their stomachs as the story develops. Among the moving crowd, the voices of storyteller recount fragments from the Ramayana, a Hindu epic that finds expression in many forms. Not only in dance, but also in paintings and carvings in Bali. The story begins with Prince Rama, who is the heir to the throne in the kingdom of Ayodya, and his wife Sita who was banished from the kingdom of Ayodya by King Dasarata due to the deceit of her stepmother. The story begins with the arrival of Rama and Sita, accompanied by Rama’s younger brother Laksamana, in the Dandaka forest.
The three of them had been observed by the demon Rahwana, King of Alengka, who lusted after Sita’s beauty. Rahwana then sent his prime minister, Marica, to exile Sita so that Rahwana could abduct her. With magical powers, Marica turned into a golden deer and entered the forest. When Sita saw the golden deer, she was so mesmerised that she asked Rama to catch it. Rama chased the deer and justify his brother, Laksamana, with strict orders to protect Sita. When Sita heard Rama’s cry for help (which was actually a trick), she forced Laksamana to go after Rama by accusing him of being a coward. Very reluctantly, Laksamana finally goes to help Rama after drawing a magic circle on the ground and telling Sita that she must not step outside the circle.
Sita who was justify alone in the forest, became an easy prey for the trickery of Rahwana who disguised himself as an old priest. Rahwana offered Sita food, as the old priest was cold and hungry. Sita fell for his trickery and stepped out of the circle drawn by the Laksamana to give food to the old priest. Rahwana quickly captured Sita and took her to his palace. In Alengka’s palace, Sita poured out her heart about her cruel fate to Rahwana’s niece, Trijata. Hanoman appeared and said that he was Rama’s messenger, proving it by showing Rama’s ring. Sita gives Hanoman a hairpin as a sign that she is still alive, asking Hanoman to relay it back to Rama and beg for help. Hanoman receives the message and returns to Rama to break the news about Sita’s condition and asks for help to save her.
Meanwhile, Rama and Laksamana, accompanied by Tualen, wander the forest in search of Sita. At the same time, Meganada, the son of Rahwana, appears and invites Rama and Laksamana to battle. Meganada used his magic and released an arrow that turned into a dragon that defeated Rama and Laksamana, and both were tied with ropes. Garuda, the King of all birds and a good friend of King Dasarata, had noticed Rama’s problem from high in the sky. He came to the rescue of Rama and Laksamana by freeing them from the ropes. Once freed, Rama and Laksamana continued their journey to rescue Sita. They are joined by Sugriwa, the king of the monkeys, and his army of monkeys. This fragment of the Ramayana culminates in a fierce battle between Sugriwa and his army of apes against Meganada and her army of demons. The battle ends with Meganada’s defeat.
How To Watch The Kecak and Fire Dance
Kecak Dance and Fire Dance are dance performances that are only performed in the afternoon involving dozens of dancers. The music in Kecak Dance predominantly comes from the voices of the dancers who together produce a “cak” sound, creating a louder sound. These performances are beautiful to watch, and for those of you who plan to watch them, you can visit the nearest location from where you are staying. However, if you want to combine the experience of watching Kecak Dance with the view of the sunset, Bali Tour offers a Half Day Uluwatu Sunset Tour package. This package will take you to visit Uluwatu Temple which offers a phenomenal sunset panorama. The Kecak Dance and Fire Dance performance starts at 6.00 pm at the theatre near Uluwatu Temple, allowing you to enjoy the sunset and the beauty of Uluwatu Temple before the show starts. After the show, you can choose to enjoy dinner at Jimbaran beach or head straight back to the hotel with unforgettable memories of this Kecak and Fire Dance experience.