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KECAK DANCE

KECAK DANCE

Tchakatchakatchaka.... You probably heard that poly rhythmic sound on your way here, or even before.

Kecak Dance is famous worldwide. It has been inspired artists from all horizons, including Fellini in Satyricon, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, composer of Akira’s Original Soundtrack, avant-garde band Devo, or Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle, just to name a few.

History of Kecak dance is also one of diversity, an early example of cross-cultural artistic influences: Kecak dance was originally part of a trance ritual. At the beginning of the 20th century, Wayan Limbak, a famous Indonesian dancer, wanted to develop it as a art form, including element of Baris, a traditional Indonesian war dance. In the meantime, Walter Spies, famous German painter, heard the story and became highly interested in it (he was also a musician). He collaborated with Wayan Limbak to turn it as new form of dancing. Wayan Limbak travelled the world with performance groups and made Kecak dance famous worldwide.

The story is taken from the Ramayana: Rama and his wife Sita have been banished from the kingdom by King Dasarata, in a plot conducted by Rama’s stepmother. The performance begins with the arrival of Rama, Sita, and Rama’s brother Laksama in the forest. Rahwana, an evil demon, who has been observing them for a while, conspire to steal beautiful Sita from Rama. He sends Marica, one of his kingdom’s ministers to set a trap and allow him to kidnap Sita. Marica transforms into a golden deer, enchanting Sita who asks Rama to capture it for her. Rama leaves Sita to chase the deer, while his brother stays to protect her.

But Sita convinces Laksamana to go help Rama. Rama agrees, but draws a magical protection circle on the ground, advising Sita not to step out from it at any cost. But Rahwana, disguised as a poor old priest, asks for help and Sita falls for it. Rhawana captures her and brings her to her palace. Sita, with the help of Rahwana’s niece, sends a message to Rama and Laksama explaining she’s being held prisoner at the palace.

In the meantime, Rama and Laksama are attacked by Meganada, Rahwasa’s son. Meganada vanquished with a magical arrows that turns into a dragon. They are captured. Fortunately, the bird Garuda comes to the rescue and frees the two brothers. They can continue their search for Sita, with the help of Sugriwa, king of the monkeys, and his army. The story ends with the defeat of Meganada and the rescue of Sita.

Kecak dance performances are held in numerous places in Bali, such as the Uluwatu and the Tanah Lot temples or in Ubud.
W.O.J. NIEUWENKAMP

W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp was born in Holland and first came to Bali in 1904. He was the 1st Western artist to visit Bali. After a quick return to Holland, he came back in 1906. Even though he didn’t settle in Bali like Walter Spies, he travelled around a lot, often coming back to Bali. His motto was “Vagando Acquiro” (while ...

KETUT MURTIKA

Ketut Murtika was born in Batuan around 1950 and became one of the most famous painters of the Batuan school, a painting style practiced by Brahman artists. His style captures Bali’s unique mystical atmosphere with ethereal depiction of everyday life scenes, landscapes and animals. His art has been shown worldwide, including France, ...

I DEWA NYOMAN BATUAN

Born in 1942, I Dewa Nyoman Batuan often painted natural landscape, religious and magical aspect of Bali and Hindu Dharma. He is also the founder, along with other artists, the Pengosekan Community of Artists in 1970. You can admire his work at his gallery in Pengosekan the Neka Museum in Ubud and Agung Rai Museum ...

THE BARONG DANCE

The Barong dance is also a story of Good overcoming Evil. The Barong, mythical creature, protector of good (embodied by two dancer in a costume), fights Rangda, the evil Lord of Darkness. The tale is told by a dance rythmed to the sound of a Gamelan gorchestra. As the fight goes on, supporters of Barong, a group of men armed with Kris, try ...

WALTER SPIES

'Walter Spies was a Russian-born German primitivist painter and musician who moved to Java in 1923. He later moved to Ubud. He is often credited with attracting the attention of the Western art scene of his time to Balinese culture and art. His house (today an hotel) has seen many illustrious visitors, such as Charlie Chaplin, Austrian ...

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