Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Kecak

Of all the dances seen on Bali today, the Kecak dance is perhaps the most dramatic.
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The Kecak Dance tells the Indian story of Ramayana. Rama, a warrior and rightful hier to the throne of Ayodya, is exiled with his wife Sita to a faraway desert. There, an evil king spies Sita, falls in love with her, and sends a golden deer to lure Rama away. Sita is captured, and Rama rounds up his armies to defeat those of the evil king and rescue her. Rama is the man in green dancing in the center of the circle, the golden deer is in yellow in the back.
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What makes the Kecak such a fascinating dance to watch are the fifty or so men in the checkered pants. They are both the choir and the props, providing the music for the story in a series of constant vocal chants that change with the mood of the actors. They don't sit still, either, they wave their arms to simulate fire, and reposition themselves around the stage to represent wind and fire, prison cells, and unseen hand of protection from the gods.
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Here in Pura Luhur Uluwatu (uluwatu temple), you can pay Rp.80,000 to watch this beautiful dance with the sunset backdrop over the indian ocean. Let me tell you, it's one of the most memorable experience to hear those male voices mixed with "tembang" narrated by the soloist inbetween.
The dance is played in five acts and lasts roughly 45 minutes. Weekly (in some places daily) performances of the Kecak abound around the island, but the most well-known Kecak theater is in the town of Batubulan just north of the Balinese capital of Denpasar. The dance company provides transportation for a nominal fee to and from the resort.
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And the climax, and the best scene (even according to a 3 year old!) is when Anoman, the white monkey, escape from being burned to death.
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Wanted to get to know the kecak dancer/singer closely?
Apparently they are VERY loud. When this picture was taken, they are singing "cak...cak...cak...cak...cak", my son was startled and hold tight to his dad. But that explain how the song can be audibly clear without sound system.
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3 comments:

Ayie said...

looks like your boy was a bit terrified =P

Snowcatcher said...

Those are some beautiful shots. Great action. Love the facial expressions you captured in the third shot. You see some really incredible things!

J.H said...

@Ayie that's absolutely right!

@Snowcatcher : you should try to cycle in bali sometimes. I think you'll love it.