Mon 3 Oct 16 - Sun 16 Oct 16
Kecak Ramayana (Monkey Dance)
The temple across the street from our guest house (Pura Dalem), puts on a few Balinese Dance Performances a week. Kadek's father was part of the troop; and so we decided to see what it is all about. The terrace leading to the inner temple was the stage.
They do the performance by fire light, there are no other lights, and this makes the performance feel primitive but also etherial.
The performance is a combination of dance and vocal music. The program states that the complex and multi layered sound of "cak cak cak" chanted by the male chorus in various rhythmic patterns is at once both the sense and soul of Kecak. This dance is mesmerizing, as the chorus sits around the fire and lift their chest up and down as they chant. As good as this description is, it does not reflect the visceral chord that resonates as you watch ...
The story is an episode from the Ramayana Epics and the dancers move in small increments, all precise and elegant, in and out of the chorus, to dance the tale.
In the Fire Dance they create a pile of burning coconut shells and the dancer, who is in a trance and astride a "hobby horse", kicks and steps into the burning pile.
Legong Kraton Dance
At the Ubud Palace, they also put on Balinese Dance Performances a few times a week. I especially wanted to see the Legong dance, since I saw so many references to it in Balinese Art. The first picture shown here is a gilded door at the Neha Museum of Art in Ubud. You can definitely see Grace and poise carved in to the dancer.
The next is a painting which shows 2 Balinese dancers; notice the finger positions, and the eyes. When dancing, they often move their fingers laterally, but what is more impressive is their eye movements, the painting has captured that beautifully. What we don't see here, but is very evident in the performance, is the small movement, almost bobbles, of the head.
And now onto the performance. Here is the venue in the courtyard of Ubud Palace. You can see the Gamelan Orchestra surrounding the stage, there are a few musicians with xylophone type instruments.
These pictures can show only one dimension of the performance, the beautiful costumes and the dancers frozen in time; but add the other dimensions, their graceful movements and the unfamiliar but beautiful musical accompaniments ... this makes the performance magical.
I've seen this "monster" carved on a lot of temple walls and facades. At first I thought that this was a malevolent character, but as I learned at the Barong Dance Performance, he/she is a fierce but loveable protector.
You can see here that this character is played by 2 dancers, in fact it looks like a dragon with hair, (but don't tell Barong I said that). In the first scene, it comes out looking fierce and malevolent, but then a monkey joins the stage and is not cowered by it, and in fact plays and teases it by pulling out a bit of its hair.
The story then goes on about an evil sorcerer and men fighting him and winning, however the parting sorcerer casts a spell on the men, putting evil into their hearts and they fight this by pointing their Krises (long knives) at their heart. The local priests try, but can not cure them... Our hero Barong, comes and heals them. [This is a very abridged version of the story, but you can find a more full story here: http://id.indo.com/culture/Barong.htm ]