A journey to Bali isn’t complete unless you participate in its cultural and traditional activities. The island is well-known for its extraordinary art performances, festivities, and magical past, among other things. It is home to various traditional arts and dances that are popular among locals and foreign tourists. Apart from Kecak, the Barong dance is one of the most prominent Bali dances.
It is frequently performed at ceremonies and festivals and depicts a conflict between Barong and Rangda to represent the eternal battle between good and evil. The fascination of Bali’s intriguing traditional dances is revealed as we dive into their beginnings, shedding light on the rich cultural history they reflect. Discover the mythological storytelling, symbolic gestures, and hypnotic choreography that make these shows a sensory feast. Here are some of Bali’s most popular dance performances, which may be seen at any of the island’s cultural centers.
Continue reading to learn more about the history of Barong dance and recommended viewing locations!
A traditional Balinese ritual dance, the Barong Dance. It’s an enthralling show about good versus evil, with the virtuous represented by the Barong, a mythical lion-like beast. It is meant to provide peace and harmony to the hamlet and is frequently performed by two actors, one as the Barong and the other as Rangda, a witch-like character. The actors portray a combat between the two characters, with the Barong finally triumphant.
Barong Dance has a long history in Balinese culture, with records dating back to the 10th century. The Barong is a mystical spirit who guards the community against bad powers. Barong performances are a famous tourist attraction in Bali, with several concerts held throughout the island. The Barong is frequently sprayed with holy water throughout the performance to keep off evil spirits.
The Barong Dance is thought to have developed as a way to entertain and bring harmony to the gods.Barong Dance is a stunning and enthralling performance that brims with life, energy, and enthusiasm. It is a unique aspect of Balinese culture that is sure to delight anyone who sees it.
Kecak Fire Dance
One of Bali’s most famous performances is the Kecak dance, which comprises a chorus of fifty or more men and boys dressed in sarongs portraying an army of monkeys. Dancers sit in a circle, chant Chak Chak-Chak-Chak, and shake their arms and bodies fiercely. The dancers form a circle around a central performer who reenacts the Ramayana love story.
It depicts prince Rama’s battle with the evil monarch in order to save the kidnapped princess Shinta. The monkey general, Hanuman, fights alongside him against the king’s troops. Originally, the Kecak was a male-only group praying to the souls of their ancestors as part of the Sang Hyang trance dance.
However, female dancers in Ubud have recently begun to perform the Kecak dance as well. The Kecak dance is best done at night, when a glowing flame in the center of the circle adds to the mystical performance.
Due to its sophisticated finger motions, challenging steps, and dramatic eye expressions, the Legong dance of Bali is frequently regarded as the most graceful style of dance on the island.
The Legong dance is only performed by ladies and young girls, and they all wear the same gold sabuk or tight brocade with gold accents. It’s wonderful to observe how they maintain their grace and agility.
The dance depicts the narrative of Rangkesari, a lovely woman who goes into the forest to avoid being married to King Lasem. She escapes into the wilderness and is finally apprehended by Lasem, who imprisons her before unleashing a final assault on her family. A monstrous raven strikes him, foretelling his demise. The Legong dance depicts King Lasem’s farewell.
This traditional dance Baris is divided into two styles. The non-ritual dance is often done by a single man dancer and is commonly the first dance a new dancer learns. A challenging dance in which the solo Baris dancer dances with the methodical care of a warrior preparing to fight. For his performance, the solitary Baris dancer wears a shell crown, a (keris) dagger, and golden fabric strips.
This dramatic performance depicts a warrior’s intense emotions and a cry for divine assistance. A big group, on the other hand, might execute over thirty separate ritual baris dances, each recalling the stance and actions of a warrior. In the many group formats of baris dancing, numerous types of music and gestures are used. These dances are commonly used in religious rituals and festivals.
Sanghyang dances are religious performances in which the divine spirit or Sanghyang temporarily enters the dancer’s body. As a result, these dances are known as trance dancing. Their initial goal was to restore balance and good health by driving out wicked spirits that manifested themselves on Earth as sickness or death. The two most well-known Sanghyang dances are the Dedari and the Jaran. A priest will step forward at the end of each dance to shatter the dancers’ trance with prayers and holy water.
The Sanghyang Dedari features two young female dancers who are hypnotized at a neighboring temple and then taken to the performance site to dance in perfect unison with their eyes securely shut. A group of men and female chanters provides the background music to which the little girls dance. The magic will be broken when the chanting finishes. The Sanghyang Jaran, also known as the Dance of the Spirits or the Fire Dance, only involves male dancers in a trance riding a symbolic horse through a fire of coconut husks.
Janger basically translates to “infatuation,” referring to someone who is madly in love. The Janger dance represents young couples’ blossoming romance and begins by building up a scene to meet the audience. The elaborate kecak will be performed by 12 male dancers, who will then sit across from each other on opposite sides of the stage while the female group (Janger) sings a traditional folk song before doing a leisurely, yet fluid dance in a square shape. The young men would sit cross-legged and perform complex hand movements inspired by pencak silat (ancient martial arts).
The young women would get down on their knees and weave designs with their arms and hands. The Janger dance is supposed to have evolved from female farmers singing to relieve fatigue after a long day in the fields. It has since evolved into a dance as a way for young men from nearby areas to meet. The Janger dance is a celebration that is frequently done as entertainment at weddings or at the end of the harvest season.
Where to Watch Bali Traditional Dance
1. BALINESE DANCE GALORE
Where: Made’s Warung Seminyak | +62361 732130
We all know and love Made’s Warung for its nasi campur since 1969. Now they have four branches in Bali and one in Amsterdam. The bigest one yet is the Seminyak Branch, and it gave them room to host some entertainment for their guests. These performances are done by the local dance group from various area in Bali. Every Monday at 20.00-21.00 they have performance from Sanggar Tari Ibu Nym. Budawati – Mengwi; Tuesday from 19.30–21.00 you can enjoy Sangar Tari Bp. Kt. Sudirawan – Gianyar; Wednesday on 20.00–21.30 is performances from Sangar Tari A.A. Rai – Gianyar; Friday you can see Sanggar Tari Ibu Alit Arini – Denpasar from 19.30–21.00; and Sunday is the Barong or Legong dance from 19.30–21.00. A must-see, when in Bali.
2. LEGONG & BARONG DANCE
Where: Kunyit Restaurant at The Anvaya Beach Resort Bali | +62361 759991 or email@example.com
Kunyit Restaurant is the ideal introduction to traditional delicacies of Bali and Indonesia, providing a sensory dining experience that specializes in authentic Balinese and Indonesian cuisine. Kunyit restaurant is famous for their Megibung package. This flavors of Bali can be enjoyed with a marvelous performance of Legong and Barong Dance every Saturday at 7 PM.
3. GRAND HYATT BALI, NUSA DUA
Kawasan Wisata Nusa Dua ITDC, Nusa Dua, Bali | +62361 771234 | Opening Hours: 6:30PM – 10:00PM
Dine underneath the stars at Pasar Senggol, designed as a contemporary Balinese night market, lingering among an array of stalls offering authentic Indonesian and Balinese dishes, as well as artisans creating a host of handicrafts.
Situated in the heart of Grand Hyatt Bali, the open amphitheater allows guests to dine while being entertained by the live legendary Balinese cultural performances. An array of Indonesian and Balinese food stalls are served along the village path. Dance performance starts at 7:30PM every night.
4. ULUWATU TEMPLE
Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali
This is the perfect place to watch the best Kecak dance in Bali. Not only you can enjoy the energetic and hypnotic Kecak dance, but also the beautiful panoramic view of Uluwatu temple cliff and the sunset. The show starts from 6 PM – 7 PM everyday. Uluwatu temple is also one of the most favorite places to watch Kecak dance.
5. UBUD PALACE
Jl. Raya Ubud No. 8, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571
Other than Kecak, Bali also has this famous dance called Legong that you should watch while visiting the island. At you can enjoy the expressive Legong dance performed by young woman with headdresses and colorful clothing. The performance starts at 7.30 PM everyday.
Where: Golden Tulip Jineng | +62 (0)361 47 27 488 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Perfectly located on the southern end of Sunset Road, Golden Tulip Jineng Resort brings this cultural event closer for everyone to experience the great energy and spiritual charisma of Kecak Ramayana Dance. Sunset Road itself is a central crossroad of south Bali that links Kuta with Denpasar, Nusa Dua and Sanur. Taking place at the resort’s very own amphitheater; Phalastana, Guests are invited to immerse into the legendary Kecak Ramayana story followed by dinner featuring an array of mouth-watering grills.
Phalastana Cultural Dinner can be enjoyed every Friday from 6.30pm. Other than Kecak, different cultural events will be scheduled on certain days.
Phalastana Cultural Night:
230,000 rupiah per person with dinner
100,000 rupiah per person for show only
Reservations highly recommended