Bali’s Famous Kecak Dance

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The kecak dance can be enjoyed daily at Uluwatu Temple on Bali’s southern peninsular. It is performed at sunset against a mesmerizing backdrop elevated on a limestone cliff above the Indian Ocean. This dramatic temple complex dates back to the 11th century and is quite an appropriate setting for what has become one of Bali’s most unique dances.  

The kecak dance was created in the 1930’s as a collaborated between a local artist and renowned German painter, Walter Spies. It blends movements and themes from the traditional sanghyang exorcism ritual with portions of the Ramayana, an epic Hindu poem considered a great work of Indian literature. The dance was intended to showcase authentic Balinese traditions but also engage audiences of Western tourists.   

What makes the kecak so unique is that the accompanying music is provided by a human choir. A group of a hundred men or more sit in concentric circles, swaying and chanting as the story unfolds.  It is basically the universal tale of good versus evil as Prince Rama battles to rescue the beautiful Sita who has been kidnapped. An army of monkeys participate in a battle against the demon king and his troops. A swift defeat enables Rama to be reunited with his lovely Sita.