Dance and Drama
Dance and dramatic performance form an important part of nearly every ritual
on Bali. They are seen as an integral part of Balinese religion and culture and
are employed as an expression of one's devotion to the gods as well as a
means of instilling centuries-old values in each generation of Balinese, through
the medium of movement, music and words.
The most important aspect of dance is that of taksu or "divine
inspiration" - the electrifying presence that mesmerizes audiences and
transports performer and viewer to another time and place. Taksu
can transform a plain-looking dancer into a great beauty and a technically
deficient one into a great artist. A dancer studying Topeng will often sleep
with a mask above his bed so he can study and absorb its character. Masks have
their own special taksu. One who lacks taksu is likened to a "weak
flame" - and dancers pray to the god of taksu before each performance. It
doesn't always come though; even the Balinese have "off" nights.
Dance in Bali are both secular and religious, and are divided into three
types ; namely wali, bebali, and balih-balihan, depending on which part of
the temple they are performed. Wali dances such as the baris gede and sanghyang
are the most sacred and are performed in the inner sanctum of the temple.
Bebali dances are
ceremonial - performed in the middle courtyard of the temple, and these are mostly
dance dramas whose stories derive from the Hindu-Javaese epics. These include
Gambuh and Wayang Wong. Balih-balihan dances are
secular and performed in the outer courtyard of the temple. Into this category fall a number of
classical and modern form like Legong, Baris, Arja, Kebyar, Sendratari and
others. However this distinction is not strictly adhered to and the time, place
and occasion may dictate the performance of a particular dance.
In Balinese society, therefore, dance performs many functions :
as a channel for visiting gods or demonic gods, the dancers acting as a
sort of living repository. These trance dances include the Sanghyang
Dedari , with little girls in trance and the Sanghyang Jaran, a fire dance.
As a welcome for visiting gods, such as pendet, rejang and sutri
as entertainment for visiting gods, such as the topeng and wayang.
While in Bali, make it a point to watch as many of the local dances as
possible. Each day there are performances at temple that opened to the public. Most Balinese dance performances
are held in the evenings, however, you can also see some
Barong Dance performances in the morning.
have rented a villa, you can contact us to arrange a private Balinese dance performance in
your garden at any time convenient for you. 40 to 60 dancers
and musicians in beautiful costumes will perform the Balinese
dances of your choice and be afterwards available to explain
anything you might wish to know.
If you are interested in Balinese dance and
music, you can contact the YAYASAN POLOS SENI (Foundation
for Pure Art) in Peliatan near Ubud. They offer dance and
music lessons at reasonable prices.