Kecak Fire & Trance Dance – Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Ronda and I absolutely loved the Kecak Fire & Trance Dance.  We saw our first one at a smaller 7:00pm showing and loved it so much that we went back to a larger one later that week.  Each have their benefits and there are others to pick from but if you’re visiting Bali the Kecak Fire & Trance Dance is a must see.  

Make sure you arrive early!  Its hard to know exactly when the crowd will show up but good seats are important!  I recommend getting there at least 30 minutes before, maybe more.

Here are some fun facts about Indonesia from my friend Sanne!

The rest of this post will be directly from the program telling the story of the Kecak Fire & Trance Dance.

Kecak is a special dance that is accompanied by male chorus, called the “Gamelan Suara.’  In this dance, the story unfolds through a choir of more than one hundred men  These men sit in a concentric circle, while singing, swaying, standing and lying prone – their voices tell the unfolding tale.

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The story is part of the Hindu epic, Ramayana, which you may find its’ expression in many forms, not just in the dances but also in paintings and carvings.  Prince Rama, the heir of the Ayodya Kingdom, and his wife Sita, had been banished by his father, the King Dasarata as he is persuade by Rama’s stepmother  The story begins with the arrival of Rama and Sita along with his brother, Laksamana in the forest of Dandaka.  The trio have been watched by the demon Rahwana, the King of Alengka, who lusts after the beautiful Sita.  Rahwana sends his prime minister, Marica, to play a trick on Sita so that they can kidnap her.  Marica has magic powers that turns himself into a golden deer, and runs around the forest so that he can attract Sita.

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When Sita sees the golden deer, she is so enchanted that she asks Rama to capture it for her.  Rama then goes after the deer by himself and strictly instructs Laksamana to protect Sita.

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When Sita thinks she hears a cry for help from Rama, she sends Laksamana to go after Rama.  He decides to go with hesitation but keeps his promise to protect Sita, by drawing a magic circle on the ground and tells her not to step outside the circle under any circumstance.

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Sita has now become an easy prey to Rahwana.  He then magically turns himself into an old hungry priest, begging for some food, which Sita falls for and then steps out of the circle.  This is the moment that Rahwana takes Sita to his palace.

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Once back in the palace in Alengka, Rahwana attempts to seduce Sita without any luck.  In the meantime, Hanoman, the white monkey, a good friend of Rama, is searching everywhere for Sita.

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At the palace, Sita pours her heart out about cruel Rahwana ito his niece Trijata, When suddenly Hanoman appears telling her that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her Rama’s ring.  Sita gives her hairpin to Hanoman and sends him back to Rama to let him ,now that she is still alive and needs to be rescued.  During this time, Rama and his brothers are wandering in the forest looking for Sita when all of a sudden Megandada, Rahwanas son, appears and engages in a battle.  He uses his magic power and shoots an arrow that turns into a dragon which over powers the three brothers.

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Thankfully, the bird Garuda, king of all birds, and a good friend of King Desert is watching the trouble that Rama is in from the sky and flies down to rescue them.  From then on, Rama and his brothers continue on their mission to rescue Sita and are joined by Sugriwa, king of the monkeys, and his monkey troop.  The story ends with a battle between Sugrwia and his monkey troop against Meganada and his demon army, in which Meganada gets defeated.

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Trance Dance

The Sanghyang is a God-inspired dance dance.  The purpose of this dance is to protect society against all evil forces and epidemics. It can e presented in many forms, but here it is presented as Sanghyang Djaran; Djaran means horse in Java as well as Bali.  The hobby horse is associated with the trance and also seen in the Kuda Kepang, a similar function in Western Java.  The horse rider is brought into a trance by the repetitive sounds of the Gamelan Suara and at this point walks on a bed of burning coconut husks, responding to the sounds.

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded www.LiveTravelTeach.com as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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