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Kecak Dance

3 December 2010 No Comment

In this post we are going to introduce you to the Kecak dance. Like many other Balinese dances, Kecak is more than just an art form or an entertaining show; these performances are traditionally put up as one of the many forms of rituals that make up the Balinese concept of spirituality. The action packed Kecak follows the plot of Ramayana, a Hindu epic about romance and righteousness. Since the typical length of a Kecak performance is usually about an hour long, the dance only covers certain parts of Ramayana, usually the early chapters.


temple complex

Temple gateways, a perfect background

lighting the fire

Lighting the fire

Kecak is almost always performed after dusk, on a fire-lit open ground. A priest will start by chanting incantations before the dance can begin. Next, a crowd of about fifty or more bare-chested men in traditional garbs entered the open stage and sat in a circle. They serve as the orchestra that will accompany the dance, chanting “cak…cak…cak” (mimicking monkey sounds) as they move to their bodies to the rhythm of the chants in a trance-like manner. Unlike other Balinese dances, no other musical instruments are used in the performance.

priest giving blessings

Blessings before start of the performance

kecak performers

Ravana (standing), plotting to kidnap Sita

The main characters will perform their part within and around the circle. With dialogue being carried out in Balinese dialect, it is impossible for most non-natives to understand what is being said; but with some basic knowledge of the Ramayana storyline, the acting is easy to follow.

Kecak performances sometimes end with another dance, the Sanghyang Jaran. It is said that this dance is traditionally done to exorcise evil spirits from villages. It features an entranced man carrying a hobbyhorse dancing around a pit of burning coconut husks. The man is obviously in a trance, displaying no signs of hesitation or pain as he pranced in and around the pit, often kicking red hot husks in all directions. After five minutes or so, he was brought out of trance, and had holy water and prayers showered on him.

sanghyang jaran

Sanghyang Jaran dance


Blessings after the Sanghyang ended

Many groups in Ubud perform Kecak and other dances nightly. Check the performance schedule with your hotel to see which group is performing what dance on each night.

Travel Info

Ticket to Kecak performance in Ubud: Approximately Rp.75,000 (in 2010)


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