"Dancing in Bali is to be seen and Heard like trees and streams in a wood"
- Dance and Drama in Bali by Walter Spies and Beryl deZoete
Dance and drama have played an important role in Balinese culture throughout the years. Through dance we can see how the Balinese look at nature, and how they regard their fauna and flora. The core of Balinese culture is dance and drama, which is traditionally performed during temple festivals. Dancers may be channeled by visiting gods or demons. Or they may perform to welcome or be entertain the visiting gods. Balinese dance cannot be separated from their religion called Agama Hindu Bali. Many dancers pray at their family shrine for taksu (inspiration) from the gods before they perform.
In the Ubud area you can go to a dance performance almost any night. Anoms's group Semar Ratih performs once a week. However if you get the chance to observe the real thing at a temple festival don't miss the opportunity. For those of you who are interested in learning Balinese dance you contact Bali Advisor; or if you are in Bali you can visit Anom and Ayu's home Studio in Ubud.
Among the dance traditions in Bali these are my favorite:
- Barong - Watch Video
- Legong - Watch Video
- Topeng - Watch Video (Jim dancing Topeng in Bali)
- Baris - Watch Video
Semara Ratih Performance in Bali
The original purpose of Balinese music is to serve religious beliefs, accompanying dances or wayang theaters.
The most important gamelan instruments are xylophones, which may be made of bronze or bamboo. Bronze xylophones are of two basic types- gangsa, whose keys are supported over a wooden resonance box, and g'nder, whose keys have individual bamboo resonators. These instruments sometimes play the melody and sometimes they provide a brilliant figuration. Gongs, suspended singly, are used for metrical accentuation; there are also gong chimes, which are of two types. The trompong, a set of 10, is a solo instrument, and the reyong, a set of 12, is played by four men, supplying figuration. Flutes, in two sizes, are made of bamboo and are used in theatrical music. Although the name of the rebab, a two-string spike fiddle, is Persian-Arabic, the instrument probably originated in S China and is used in the music of the gambuh play. Cymbals, bell rattles, and drums supply the all-important elaborate rhythmic background. The anklung is an archaic, tuned bamboo rattle. It is not known in all parts of Bali, but gives its name to the anklung gamelan, a ceremonial gamelan which may at one time have always included anklungs.