Perhaps one of the most publicised dances in Bali is the Kecak. Although it is not a traditionally religious Balinese dance it is probably the most popular with the tourists. In the 1930’s Walter Spies and author Katherane Merhson thought that the “cak” chorus of the Sanghyang dances added to another story would be popular with visitors to Bali. They worked with a local dancer, Limbak, and his troupe and incorporated the theme of good versus evil with the story of Ramayana and combined it with Baris movements. Kecak is unusual, as there are no musical instruments; the music is singing and the occasional hand clapping. The dance is based on the story from the great Ramayana epic, written hundreds of years ago by the Indian author, Bagawan Walmiki. The myth dramatises the eternal conflict between good (Dharama) and evil (Adharma). The dance is performed with over 100 dancers and singers and a visit to Bali is not complete if you do not see a performance.
About one hundred men sit in concentric circles and begin by chanting cak-cak-cak-cak. This intonation, which resembles the chattering of monkeys, will echo through your mind for hours or even days after the show.
The dance begins when Rama, his younger brother, Laksamana and Rama’s betrothed, Sita are living in the forest near Nandaka Mountain. Sita and Rama see a beautiful golden deer. Sita convinces Rama to catch the deer, but unbeknown to both of them the deer is a reincarnation of Marica, a minister of Rahwana.
Rama goes of to capture the deer leaving Laksamana to protect Sita. Sita is mysteriously deceived by the voice of the deer that Rama’s life is in danger. An argument ensues between Sita and Laksamana as they debate whether Rama is in danger or not. Sita is convinced that Laksamana wants Rama dead so that he can marry her. Laksamana is confident that Rama is in no danger and so wanders off to look for him. Rahwana then captures the unprotected Sita and carries her off to Alengka.
Sita is held captive in Alengka Palace and Rahwana’s nephew, Trijata, looks after her. Trijata tries to convince Sita to marry Rahwana who after some time begins to imagine that Rama has forgotten about her.
However Rama sends the King of Monkeys, Hanoman, to Alengka on a mission with a ring for Sita. She confirms that she is still alive by giving a golden flower to Hanoman to pass onto Rama. When Hanoman returns to Ayodia, Rama, Laksamana, Hanoman and his army proceed to Alengka to free Sita. When they approach the Rahawana Palace, Rahwana’s son, Meganada shoots a magic arrow at Rama and Laksamana. The arrow changes into a snake and encircles Rama and Laksamana making them immobile. Garuda is summoned to eat the snake and free Rama and Laksamana. Sugriwa, the general of the Monkey Army, and Meganada fight and Sita is rescued. The victors, overjoyed return to Ayodia.
Photograph taken with Nikon D90 & 16-85mm lens at 85mm, ISO 3200 on 14th August 2012