A Long History Of Kecak Dance in Bali

 known in Indonesian as Tari Kecak, is a form of Balinese hindu dance and music dramathat was developed in the 1930s in Bali, Indonesia. Since its creation it has been performed primarily by men, with the very first women’s kecak group starting in 2006.[ The dance mainly plays about the Ramayana and is traditionally performed in temples and villages across Bali.

Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of at least 150 performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting “chak” and moving their hands and arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana. The monkey-like Vanara led by Hanuman helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. Kecak has roots in sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.[

History Of Kecak Dance

Kecak dance is a dance that was created and created by artists from Bali, Wayan Limbak and a friend from Germany. At the beginning of its emergence this type of dance was created accidentally which was taken from a traditional dance of worship known as Shangyang. Sanghyang is a type of traditional Balinese dance performed in religious ceremonies such as refusing reinforcements and expelling an epidemic.

From this Sangh performance, then Wayang Limbak and Walter Spies innovated to create a dance movement as a manifestation of their love of Balinese culture and art.

One type of dance is presented by dancers who sit in a circle and say the word “cak-cak-cak-cak” simultaneously, because this dance is also called “kecak dance”. The hand movements presented in the show actually tell a story of Ramayana which is in the event Dewi Shinta was kidnapped by Ravana. Until the end of the performance, this dance usually presents the story of the release of Dewi Sintha from Rahwana’s hand.

In order to support the story presented, in the traditional Balinese dance performances there must also be several figures who play the main roles as Hanoman, Sugriwa, Dewi Shinta, Rhama, and Rahwana.

In the 70s Wayang Limbak worked hard to promote and introduce kecak dance to foreign countries. In addition to introducing the uniqueness in this dance performance, of course, the area of ‚Äč‚Äčorigin of this art also soared in the international world which then attracted foreign tourists to visit Bali.

In its development dance performances which also tell the puppet story are played by men who are infinite in number. There are times when presented by dozens of people but in certain events there are also those that are displayed in bulk by thousands of dancers.

The development of the Kecak dance from the beginning of its creation up to now can be said to be quite proud. In addition to the enthusiasm of the Balinese people towards the art of Wayan Limbak’s work it turns out that the tourists visiting Bali were also very interested in watching a performance of this art movement. No wonder the local government makes the Kecak dance as one of the regional arts and cultural icons.

The Monkey Dance is also given as the designation of this one Balinese traditional dance. This is given because one of the scenes in the dance performance uses fire property and the main character who acts as an ape / Hanoman.

The function of the Kecak Dance


As stated above, the kecak dance is a dance that comes from the creation of upang shangyang. Because the shangyang ceremony is a kind of sacred activity and can only be done in the temple, Wayan Limbak innovates from the inspiration of the shangyang movement to become a famous dance movement to foreign countries.

The function of the kecak dance can be grouped in broad outline as follows.

As a means of entertainment
The creation of this dance movement is consciously carried out in order to demonstrate a typical Balinese art in the general public. This dance aims as a means of entertainment both for the local community and for tourists who come to Bali.
Efforts to preserve culture
In the dance that begins with the Sanghyang ceremony there are also stories and stories implied from the beginning to the end of the show. Puppet stories that are adopted in a dance movement are new innovations in an effort to preserve Hindu culture, especially in the Ramayana story.
Accompaniment of Musical Instruments
There is almost no musical instrument accompanying the kecak dance except for the clattering sounds and the sounds of the dancers that read “cak-cak-cak-cak”. Although there is no special musical instrument like other dances, it is precisely here that the uniqueness of the dance lies here.

Sounds that are muted and sometimes compact make unique tones that are very interesting to listen to as the dance moves performed by the dancers.

The clatter sounds are heard from the dance properties worn by dancers, especially the main characters in Balinese performing arts.
What are the properties in Kecak dance?
As with the twelve Serampang dances and Gambyong Surakarta dance, the Kecak dance also has distinctive properties that are characteristic of a traditional art performance. The properties commonly used in the show include the following:
Shawl
The shawl or cloth worn by the dancers of the Kecak dance has a black and white checkered pattern resembling a chessboard.
Light bracelet
This property is worn both on the wrist and partly on the ankle. This light bracelet makes a jingling sound when the dance moves are performed.
Place of offerings
The existence of offerings as the property of the kecak dance makes this dance very unique and looks sacred. Moreover, the origin of the dance movement originating from a Sanghyang traditional ceremony made this dance also look mystical among the audience.
Mask
At least there are 3 masks worn by the main dancers acting as Hanoman, Sugriwa, and Rahwana figures on the stories presented during the dance.

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