While you’re in Bali there are some iconic things you should see. One of these is traditional Balinese dance, which is beautiful, colourful, and sometimes haunting.
Dances are used for many different reasons in Bali, from sacred ceremonies within temples, to pure entertainment and fun. In Candidasa there are plenty of dances to see and you might even come across a traditional dance if you visit local villages when they are in the midst of temple ceremonies, weddings, or other celebrations. If you’d like to learn more about Balinese dance, read on.
Popular Balinese Dances
Some of the most iconically Balinese dances are the Legong, Kecak, and Barong Dances.
The Legong has long been used as a symbol of the island. Some of the very first tourism posters feature Legong dancers and there is even a silent American film from 1935 called simply, Legong.
The Legong is mainly danced by 2 girls, usually quite young, but rigorously trained. This dance was originally performed for royalty, but is now a very popular dance for tourists.
If you don’t see a Kecak dance while you are holidaying in Bali, you’re seriously missing out. This is an energetic dance inspired by trance exorcisms. It was created as entertainment for tourists in the 1930s and has been one of the most watched dances ever since.
In this dance, a large group (sometimes hundreds) of male dancers sit shirtless in a circle. Generally there is a fire in the centre and all the dancers chant and make hand and arm movements in time to the chants. At night this is a truly intoxicating dance.
Finally, the Barong dance. The Barong depicts the battle between good (the Barong) and evil (the demonic queen Rangda). The barong is played by 2 men in a lionesque costume, not unlike the famous Chinese dragons. This is a favorite with families with children, although sometimes they can be frightened by the clacking of the Barong’s jaws.
Sacred Balinese Dances
The above dances are very popular in tourist areas and can be seen in Candidasa when you stay at Lotus Bungalows. However, there are different kinds of dances, tari wali, reserved only for sacred events and usually within temple walls.
Dances like Rejang Dewa, Tari Baris, Barong and Sang Hyang, are presented as an offering to the Gods and are usually danced by trained dancers from the same village as the temple they are being performed in.
The people of Bali are extremely welcoming and are happy to have you into their temples to watch such dances as long as you are properly dressed and respectful. Ask the staff at Lotus Bungalows Candidasa or the drivers in the area if there are any temple dances that you could see. It’s often a magically experience and much different to seeing a dance put on for tourists.
Learning Balinese Dance
If you are so inclined, it’s even possible to learn a little Balinese dance while you are on the island. The precise hand, arm and foot movements can be difficult to master, but it’s fun to have a go.
Are you interested in Balinese dance?
Balinese dance is a beautiful way to immerse yourself in a little of the colourful Balinese culture. Have you seen the iconic dancers and wondered what it’s all about before? We hope this has whetted your appetite even more for seeing some dance while you’re in Bali. If you have any questions about Balinese dance or culture, we’d love to hear them in the comments section below.