In Bali on every temple feast, a wedding party, a cremation or an ordinary party is always enlightened by music gambelan and dances, sometimes lasting for several nights. Music and dances are not only a tradition of the Balinese culture, but they are an integral part of their God and ancestral gods, but their function too is for aesthetics and ethics. They are aimed at the search for a holy life and truth in the super natural world.
However it does not include, that the creation of all Balinese dances is from their religion, for in fact some creations are more intended for the common people too. In Bali besides many varieties of dance there are also many kinds of gambelan instruments which are grouped into various ensembles each having diverse characteristics and specific uses. We distinguish four main categories of Balinese dances, they are :
Firstly : Ceremonial dances or temple dances, which are inseparable from temple rites. In fact all dance in Bali is an offering, because all dancing is religious in the sense that it is connected with the temple and organic in the life of the village or dedicatedto a certain ceremony. To these dances belong the Pendet, Gabor, Rejang and the like, mostly done by girls and women while the other devotional parts played by men or young men are the ritual baris : Baris Gde, Baris Pendet, Baris Presi, Baris Tumbak, Baris Dadap, Baris Brandang, Baris Jojor and Baris Kupu.
Secondly : Dances of Magic, which are closely related to mysticism and magic still deeply rooted in the conscience of the Balinese society. To these dances belong the Sanghyang dance, Barong, Calonarang. In which little/virgin girl are put into a state of trance by incense smoke and singing, where men in a state of ecstasy attack themselves with their krisses (daggers). We can also see the eternal fight between the good and the evil each represented by the barong and the rangda. As sid before all dancing in Bali has a religious background, whether it be an offering, a prayer , an exhibition or exorcism. In fact it is usually a combination of all these elements. It has something to deal with propagating evil spirits, magic practices and the life in the supernatural world
Thirdly : Dance-dramas, which are connected to the historical events, genealogy, mythology as well as folklore. They still have their ceremonial back ground, though they are more and more secularized towards performing arts. These kinds of dances are very popular and beloved , for their functions are as a means of educating the masses as well as entertaining simultaneously. They include are : Gambuh, Wayang Wong, Topeng, Arja, which usually take a couple of hours for a performance.
Fourthly : Recreational dances, which include many types of dances functioning more as amusement than for ritual purposes. To these kinds of dances belong all the contemporary dances describing the daily activities of the Balinese society such as , weaving, fishing, working in the rice fields or portraying the beauty of the nature and the life of its fauna ( tari tenun, tari nelayan, tari tani, tari kupu-kupu).
However it is impossible to make an accurate definition which type or category a certain dance belongs to since in any dance we still see the combinative elements enter wined.
Barong Dance is a mythical monster with a long , sagging body built on a frame work of bamboo and string, which is covered with various kinds of material according to the animal whose mask it wears. The Barong masks still in use are : Macan (tiger), Bangkal (boar), Gajah (elephant), Singa (lion), Lembu (cow), but is universally know as …. Read More
What makes the Kecak special is that the accompanying music is provided by the human voice, the gamelan suara, a choir of a hundred men or more sitting in concentric circles, swaying, standing up, lying prone as the story develops. Amongst the swaying masses the voices of the storytellers can be heard telling the unfolding …. Read More
It is rather difficult to trace the origin of Janger Dance, no place in Bali admits to having been responsible for the first Janger. The north Bali says it came from south, the south attributed to north. If Bali makes Lombok responsible, Lombok says it learnt from Bali. Some expert said that the janger is derived from Sanghyang dance. The female …. Read More
Pendet is a traditional Balinese dance, in which offerings are made to purify the temple or theater as a prelude to ceremonies or other dances. Pendet is typically performed by young girls, carrying bowls of flower petals, handfuls of which are cast into the air at various times in the dance. Pendet can be thought of as a dance of greeting …. Read More
One of the most important of ritual dance in Bali, is the Baris. Baris derives its name from the word bebarisan, which literally means a line of file of formation. It refers to the ancient Balinese soldiers who were used by raja-raja , (the Balinese King ) to protect their kingdom in times of disturbance. Aside from its ritual function, the baris is…. Read More
The most graceful of Balinese dances, this is the epitome of classical Balinese female dancing. A legong, as the dancer is known, is often a young girl of eight or nine years, rarely older than her early teens. It was first created in the 18th Century and is usually the first dance to be taught to beginners. There are many forms of Legong …. Read More
Frog Dance is the brainchild of dance maestro I Made Jimat, which was established in 1967. Frog Dance depicts the movements and behavior of a frog, and reenacts a Balinese version of the familiar fairy tale about the princess who marries a frog. The Story of the Frog Dance can be summed up as follow, a prince of Jenggala who …. Read More
Calonarang Dance refers to the struggle between Rangda (Calonarang) and the great king Airlangga. Calonarang was a widow of Girah who gave birth to a daughter in the jungle. Her daughter grew up to be the famed beauty Ratna Menggali. Calonarang wanted her daughter to marry a prince from Airlangga’s palace. However …. Read More
Kebyar Dance is a male solo dance like the Baris. There are various forms of Kebyar including the Kebyar Duduk and Kebyar Trompong. In Kebyar Dance, the accent is upon the dancer himself, who interprets every nuance of the music in powerful facial expressions and movement. The most popular orm of Kebyar in South Bali is Kebyar …. Read More
Joged Bumbung Dance
In the Tabanan district we still find the archaic Joged Bumbung which is obviously connected with the season life in the fields or dedicated to Dewi Sri, Godness of Fertility, as a thanks giving ceremony. It celebrates the rice stamping which is suck a familiar sound and sight in Bali During the rice harvest. But the last development of this …. Read More
Rejang Dance is an ancient dance performs only in a temple anniversary in inner courtyard of the temple to delight and entertain the visiting god and spirit. Rejang consist of a slow procession, but participants conduct themselves with extreme grace and delicacy. It is a dignified and elegant affair. Compare to other Balinese …. Read More
The most popular afternoon (matinee) entertainment, especially with the more serious type of men is Topeng Dance, a masked play dealing with the exploits of local kings and warriors, episodes of the wars and intrigues of Balinese history (babad) . Two or three actors, usually aged men, play all the parts and impersonate all sorts of …. Read More
Sang Hyang Dedari Dance
Sang Hyang Dedari or Trance Dance is normally performed to entertain the gods and the goddesses to appease them or to ask for their blessings. A bad harvest or an outburst of an illness may warrant such a dance. The preparation for this dance may take months, as prepubescent girls who have never danced are trained …. Read More
Among the many form of Balinese dance drama, Arja corresponds most nearly to the idea of opera in the western theatre or rather musical comedy. It is one of the most popular theaters in Bali, derived form Gambuh in style but with a more sentimental repertory of plays, in which singing and spoken lines, stylized dance scenes …. Read More
The most contemporary dance drama is the Drama Gong which has developed and accepted some foreign elements of drama. It is actually a drama or play than a dance with the Balinese gambelan for accompaniment. It is a mixture of all kinds of Balinese traditional drama. The inclusion of this Balinese modern drama …. Read More
If the Wayang Kulit is closely related to the sacred ceremonies not so the Wayang Wong ( meaning human puppet). It is obviously know that this Wayang Wong is no other than living actors who take place of that flat leather puppets’ role. It has been secularized, thought it still functions as devotional expression during various …. Read More
The more ancient indigenous theatre that precedes the Wayang Wong is the Wayang Kulit/Purwa. Traditionally the function of the shadow play is bound up with exorcism, propitiation and invocation of fertility. It reflects a traditional art, a shadow theatre dated back many centuries ago, but its origin is still the subject …. Read More