A Short Guide To Traditional Balinese Dances

brongTourists at a Balinese luxury resort will frequently be invited to watch some local live shows.

These take the form of traditional dance ceremonies performed the same way for centuries, all of them having some significance. There’s a good variety of these and they all have their own little cultures.

Here’s a few of the kind you’re most likely to encounter:

Barong – The “lion dance”. It’s kind of a passion play about the fight between good and evil. Done with lion masks and a lot of visual spectacle. Barong dances tend to be performed in just about any tourist stop in Bali, so it’s not hard to find one.

Calonarang – A darker, more spiritual dance about casting out evil spirits. Be respectful when you see this one, because it has significance in Balinese spiritualism. There is a witch-queen character called “Rangda” who figures in the story, so look out for her.

Kecak – The “monkey dance”. As Balinese as the monkey temple itself, this dance goes to the roots of the animism branch of spirituality. Nevertheless, it’s an eye-popping spectacle with up to 250 chanting dancers in concentric circles.

Legong Keraton – The canonical historic dance of Indonesia, this one dates back to the 12th century at least. It is performed by young girls and is about young nymphs in breathtakingly beautiful costumes. Shorter versions are performed specifically for tourists, but treat yourself to a full-length version.


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