Introduction to Kecak Dance

Kecak dance is one of the typical dances of the island of Bali whose concept is dance drama. Most of the dance drama stories in the Kecak dance are based on the story of the Ramayana. Of the many Balinese dances, the Kecak dance has its own uniqueness when compared to other Balinese dances.

When you watch the Kecak dance, you will hear the sound, Cak, Cak, Cak. Cak is a distinctive sound and the one you hear the most when watching Balinese Kecak dance performances.

The Kecak dance does not use musical instruments such as gamelan to accompany the dancers. Instead, it uses the sound of music from the mouth of a dance accompaniment, such as an acapella. Apart from not using musical instruments to accompany the dance, the number of dance accompaniments is also very large. The average number of accompanists for the Kecak dance is 50 people, up to 150 people and not including the main dancer.

Furthermore, most of the dance accompanists are men. Then the dance accompanists will sit cross-legged to form a circle.



History of the Kecak Dance

According to Wikipedia, the creators of the Balinese Kecak dance were Mr Wayan Limbak and Walter Spies around the 1930s. Walter Spies is a painter from Germany who lives on the island of Bali.

The initial idea of the Kecak dance came from the Sanghyang dance. There are many types of Sanghyang dance, such as the Sanghyang Jaran (Horse) dance and the Sanghyang Dedari (Angel) dance. As information, the Sanghyang Dance is a sacred dance and is only performed during piodalan ceremonies at certain temples.

By combining the concepts of movement and sound of the Sanghyang dance, Wayan Limbak and Walter Spies created the Kecak dance with the concept of a dance drama based on the Ramayana story. So if you ask, what dance movements inspired the Balinese Kecak dance? Then the answer is the Sanghyang dance movement.

Then Wayan Limbak often performs the Kecak dance in the Gianyar district and performs dance performances abroad. Over time, the Kecak dance began to be recognized by Balinese in other areas.


What is the function of the Balinese Kecak Dance?

The Kecak Dance is a dance drama, with the main function being entertainment. In contrast to the Sanghyang dance which has a function as a way of rejecting reinforcements in the Balinese Hindu tradition and is only performed during religious ceremonies in temples.

Although the Balinese Kecak Dance is not classified as a sacred dance. However, before the performance of the Kecak dance begins, there will be a priest (Hindu priest) who leads prayers and prayers for the safety of all.



The Performance and Experience of Kecak Dance

Watching a Kecak Dance performance is an unforgettable experience. The energy and intensity of the dancers, combined with the hypnotic chanting, creates a mesmerizing atmosphere. The performance usually takes place in open-air theaters, allowing the audience to feel fully immersed in the experience. The dance can also include the use of fire, adding an extra element of excitement to the performance.


Dance Drama Story Theme

Most of the Kecak dances in Bali take the theme of the Ramayana story by playing several famous figures such as:

  • Rama, a good-natured handsome young man.
  • Dewi Sita, a beautiful woman with a pure heart.
  • Hanuman, the monkey man.
  • Ravana, a giant with an evil character.

Furthermore, the Balinese Kecak dance performance which takes the theme of the Ramayana story will tell about the king of the Ayodya kingdom named Rama. Due to the conflict within the royal family, Rama had to exile himself to the forest.

Dewi Sita is Rama’s wife and Rama’s younger brother named Laksamana. Both Dewi Sita and Laksamana insisted on following King Rama in exile in the forest. In the forest, the evil Raja Rawana from the kingdom of Alengka kidnaps Dewi Sita’s wife. Then Rama & Laksamana assisted by Vanaras (monkeys), led by Hanuman, attacked the kingdom of Alengka to save Dewi Sita.


How to Watch and Participate in Kecak Dance in Bali

  1. Find out when and where Kecak Dance performances are taking place. Many hotels and cultural centers offer daily performances, but you can also check with local tourist information centers for schedules.
  2. Arrive early to get a good seat. Performances usually take place in open-air theaters, so it’s best to arrive early to get a seat with a good view.
  3. Dress appropriately. It’s best to wear comfortable, modest clothing as the performance can last for several hours.
  4. Be respectful of the performance. The Kecak Dance is a sacred performance and should be treated with respect. Avoid taking photos or videos during the performance, and refrain from talking or making noise during the performance.
  5. Consider participating in a Kecak Dance workshop. Many cultural centers and schools offer workshops where you can learn the dance and even participate in a performance. This is a great way to learn more about the dance and immerse yourself in the Balinese culture.



Where to Watch Kecak Dance in Bali

One of the best places to watch a Kecak Dance performance in Bali is at the Uluwatu Temple. The temple, located on a cliff top, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bali and offers daily performances of the dance. Other popular venues for Kecak Dance performances include the Rama Shinta Kecak Dance in Ubud, and the Pura Tanah Lot, a temple located on the coast. There are also many cultural centers and hotels that offer regular performances, such as the Bali Cultural Center and the Taman Kuliner Food Court in Denpasar. It is also worth noting that some of the performances are held in the open air and can be watched while enjoying a dinner You can also check with local tourist information centers for schedules and information on upcoming performances.