Kecak Dance

One of our first nights in Bali our guide, Wayan took us to a Kecak dance. This is a traditional Balinese telling of the Ramayana, one of the epic Hindu tales. Prince Rama is out hunting when his beautiful wife, Sita  is kidnapped by an evil king. There’s a crazy monkey creature involved and a bird-god, but the performance is style and mood-based rather than story-centric. I remembered that when I went back and looked at the photos. The memory took my breath away. Originally a tribal trance ritual, performed since the 1930s, kecak has evolved to include Hinduism and it is now considered a form modern art culture. The only music is an on-stage choir of men, chanting and calling “cak” in waves of chorus. They add arm waving and occasional dancing to punctuate the high points of the story. Between the lighting, chanting and exotic costumes, it’s a provocative spectacle. I’ve added a few of the most mood-evoking photos below.

 Lighting the stage centerpiece at the beginning of the performance.

 The sinew in his back…

 Kecak chanters

 A favorite shot of the night – one of the king’s daughters enters.

 The evil king convinces Sita to stay with him.

 Another favorite – Sita.

 Sita’s mother gives the monkey a gift to convince him to help release her daughter.

The second sister is imprisoned and awaits her sister’s return. I love the kecak chanters laying down around her.

 My favorite Hindu god – the Garuda Bird arrives to help Rama retrieve his wife.

 Climax of the trance-inducing dance and chant…

…so that this guy (convincingly entranced) could dance on fire. No tricks here folks. Real fire, real dancing, real calluses on his bare feet.