The Grace and Power of Balinese Dance and Drama
No visit to Bali can be called complete without witnessing at least one performance of the spectacular mix of grace and spirit, passion and power that is Balinese dance. Whether it is the delicate beauty of the Legong dance, where angelic young girls move with breathtaking grace to the silvery tones of a gamelan orchestra, or the uncanny magic of the Calonarang drama where the evil witch Rangda does battle with the legendary Barong and his legion of dagger-wielding followers, or the spine-tingling action of the Kecak, whose hundred man chorus sends up an eerie symphony of sound into the still night air, a performance of Balinese dance is something the visitor will never forget.
Traditionally, Balinese dance flourished around the ancient kingdoms that ruled the worldly and religious life of the island. Kings commanded beautiful and powerful dancers to perform for their pleasure and to offer delightful entertainment to the gods so that they might shower prosperity on the realm. Promising dancers were brought to the courts to be trained by expert teachers, their movements molded over long years of patient practice into the ideal embodiment of physical and spiritual beauty. Today, in modern Bali, dance still flourishes.
These days, however, it is not royal patronage but an admiring audience of foreign guests that has lent a new prestige to these traditional arts and made Balinese dance famous world wide for its unparalleled grace, passion and style. With the eyes of the world watching in anticipation, Balinese dance troupes have become more active, more creative, and more awesomely talented than ever before.