One of the top things to do in Bali is to watch a traditional dance performance, which is often part of dinner entertainment. The dance forms of Bali are special because they recount tales from Hindu scriptures, with dancers depicting demons and heroes alike with their expressive movements. Those who are truly captivated can even learn Balinese dance with easy workshops.
Types of Balinese Dances
Balinese dances are classified as sacred and non-sacred, which is only for entertainment purposes. Among the sacred dances are ceremonial performances and dance to avert maleficent forces. There are semi-sacred dances as well, which include depictions of epics and royal theatrical shows. Social dance performed by couples is a part of the entertainment dances.
Popular Balinese Dances
Kecak Dance: One of the best known dance forms of Bali, this one involves men chanting and performing with flames of fire. Kecak dance is often a part of evening entertainment at Balinese temples.
The Ramayana Ballet: A ballet depiction of the events in the Ramayana with contemporary movements and poignant music leaves viewers entranced. A female singer narrates the story alongside.
Topeng Dance: This is a Balinese masked dance, with dancers sporting masks made of paper or wood. They recount stories of yore through their movements. The tales are usually based on kings and princesses.
Barong Dance: The Barong Dance tells a specific story – that of the tussle between a forest king, representing ‘good’, and a witch in command of dark spirits, symbolising ‘evil’. One has to watch the dance to know who wins.
Cendrawasih Dance: This beautiful dance features two female dancers, who demonstrate the mating rituals of ‘burung’, otherwise known as birds of paradise. The dancers use their skirts as wings while dancing.
Pendet Dance: This traditional temple dance involves young girls making floral offerings to the deity. They carry bowls full of flower petals, strewing a few into the air now and then. It is often the prelude to other performances.
Legong Dance: One of the most artistic Balinese dances, this one depicts the tale of a king who wishes to marry a damsel who doesn’t return his feelings. The footwork and finger movements of the dancers are eye-catching.
Jegog and Joged Dances: These are social dances where the audience is also invited to participate. Movements are simple, such as shaking of hips, accompanied by bamboo music.
The hand gestures and expressions of the dancers as they move to Indonesian gamelan music is indeed enchanting. Their skilfulness could be attributed to the fact that most dancers are initiated into the art form in their early childhood.
Perhaps you would like to learn how to perform one of these dances? Or maybe you’re just content with admiring the dancers while you dine. Either way, a trip to Bali is a must for lovers of art and culture.