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Bali Blog - Article About Bali Holiday Island

History of Kecak Dance in Bali Island Indonesia

18 June 2017

Balinese people are indeed immensely creative. When I Ketut Maria was sitting in the rice field, his eyes suddenly gazed at bird eating rice. Based on the inspiration, he then composed the naughty and flirty Terompong Dance. On another occasion, this artist sat down in the park. He watched beetles sucking honey and this spectacle drove him to the creation of Oleg Tamulilingan Dance. Among visitors, Kecak Dance is often called The Monkey Dance. This dance constitutes a dance that has been processed in the form of drama.

Kecak Dance is of old age, but has now been modified because it has been adjusted to the demand of the tourism market. The Monkey Dance itself is one of the most popular dances and most favored by tourists both domestic and foreign tourists. The name “kecak” comes from the words cak, cak, cak shouted by the dancers continually throughout the show. A cappella of cak, cak, cak serves as the “background music” of this unique dance. There is a consensus among the Balinese people that Kecak Dance was first developed into an art show at Bona, Gianyar. In Bali , there is a kind of quite unique dance and played mainly by men, where the
number of players reaches tens or more dancers sitting in line and a circle with a specific rhythm while shouting a cappella cak and raising their hands. It is described as rows of monkeys helping the Prince Rama against Ravana in the Ramayana epic. Kecak originates from Sanghyang ritual, namely a tradition where the dancers are in trance as communicating to God or ancestral souls conveying their expectations to the public. Kecak Dance does not use any musical instruments, but only uses a set of chimes on feet of the dancers playing the characters of Ramayana. Meanwhile, the dancers sit in the circle wearing a checkered cloth wrapped around their waists.

Kecak dance was composed by Wayan Limbak with a German painter Walter Spies in the 1930s. They composed the dance based on ancient Sanghyang tradition and took the parts of the Ramayana epic. The dance turned popular when Wayan Limbak together with Balinese dancers made a tour roaming around the world to introduce the Kecak Dance. Up to these days, the Kecak Dance has become a famous Balinese art. According to Ida Bagus Arjawa, an artist from Bona, Kecak Dance was originally a song or music resulted from the combination of voice the forming a melody. Formerly, the music was just performed to accompany the sacred Sanghyang Dance. Uniquely, it might only be performed in the temples. In the early 1930s, some artists from Bona Village attempted to develop the Kecak Dance by taking the theme from the Ramayana epic. It was made dramatic as the substitute of Sanghyang Dance. Finally, since the Kecak Dance was often performed before the public it was then turned famous. Abduction of Sinta by King Ravana was the first sequel taken from the Ramayana.

Since 1970s, the Kecak Dance continued to experience some changes, especially in terms of story and staging techniques. Today, Kecak Dance can not only be encountered at one place, like at Bona Village , Gianyar, but also at other villages in Bali . Almost every single village in Bali has Kecak Dance troupe whose members comprise the local villagers. Kecak Dance Festival is also often organized in Bali whether by government or art school in Bali Apart from the Ramayana epic, there is also Kecak Dance today taking the sequel of Mahabrata epic.

That's why Kecak Dance is always played at the night. It was said, Kecak Dance is categorized into the oldest dance. Why? At that time, it has not been found any gambelan instrument made of metal. Probably, the Kecak Dance was still called the Sanghyang Dance then. Therefore, the Kecak Dance was only accompanied by music taking advantage of the voice of the players.

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