Balinese Dances and Dancers

Balinese Dances and Dancers

Balinese dances is a very ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people of Bali island, Indonesia. Balinese dance is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive. Balinese dancers express the stories of dance-drama through the bodily gestures including gestures of fingers, hands, head and eyes.

There is a great richness of dance forms and styles in Bali; and particularly notable are those ritualistic dance dramas which involve Rangda, the witch, and the great beast Barong. Most of dances in Bali are connected to Hindu rituals, such as the Sanghyang Dedari sacred dance than invoked hyang spirits that believed to possess the dancers in trance state during the performance. Other Balinese dances are not linked to religious rituals and created for certain purposes, such as Pendet welcoming dance and Joged dance that is social dance for entertainment purpose.

During the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage convention in 29 November to 4 December 2015 in Windhoek, Namibia, UNESCO recognizes three genres of traditional dance in Bali, Indonesia, as Intangible cultural heritage. The three genres includes Wali (sacred dances), Bebali (semi-sacred dances) and Balih-balihan (dances for entertainment purposes). The Balinese dance has been proposed since 2011,[3] and officially recognized in 2015.

The three genres are represented by nine dances, which describes its function and living tradition in Balinese community, they are:

Wali Sacred Dances

Rejang (Klungkung District). Sacred ceremonial dance by a young women in traditional ceremonial dress,

Sanghyang Dedari (Karangasem District). Sacred trance dance to counteract negative supernatural forces. Performed by two young girls.

Baris Upacara (Bangli District) religious dances conveying heroic spirit danced by even numbers of male dancers.

Bebali Semi sacred Dances

Topeng Sidhakarya/Topeng Pajegan (Tabanan District). Performed by masked dancers to neutralize the evil spirits.

Gambuh dance drama (Gianyar District). Formerly royal theatrical performance, now accompaniment to ceremonies, by 25-40 dancers.

Wayang Wong dance drama (Buleleng District). Combines dance, epic drama and music.

Balih-balihan Entertainment Dances

Legong Kraton (Denpasar City). Exquisitely beautiful dance by 2 or 3 girls. Developed from Sanghyang Dedari, and Gambuh.

Joged Bumbung (Jembrana District). A popular social dance by couples, during harvest season or on important days.

Barong Ket “Kuntisraya” (Badung District). Represents a fight between two mythological characters, Barong in the form of a lion symbolizing goodness and Rangda, an evil witch.

Ulun Danu Temple in Bali

Ulun Danu Temple in Bali

Bali Golden TourBali Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a temple dedicated to the goddess of the lake is Ida Batari Dewi Ulun Danu on the edge of a huge crater. The dominant shrines are Meru’s (pagodas) dedicated to the lake goddess and the gods of Mount Batur and Mount Gunung Agung, the largest volcano in Bali. The temple was built in the 17th century in worship of the main Hindu trinity, Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, as well as the lake goddess, Dewi Danu.

The sight and cool atmosphere of the Bali uplands have made the lake and this temple a favourite sightseeing and recreational spot as well as a frequently photographed site. Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, literally ‘the source temple of Lake Beratan’, is easily the island’s most iconic sanctuary sharing the scenic qualities with the seaside temples of Uluwatu Temple and Tanah Lot Temple. The smooth reflective surface of the lake surrounding most of the temple’s base creates a unique floating impression, while the mountain range of the Bedugul region encircling the lake provides the temple with a scenic backdrop.

INSIDE 2 ULUN DANU TEMPLE | LAKE TEMPLE | Bali Golden TourUlun Danu Beratan Temple mostly called as a Ulun Danu Temple but not to be confused with Ulun Danu Batur Temple, which is on the rim of the caldera at Batur Lake. It is especially important for the Balinese. Only here can you get holy water of a particular variety. The water is collected from the lake itself, directly in front of the temple. Visitors have to wear a sash and not go near. Bathing is forbidden.

The lake is the ultimate source of water for the rivers and springs that irrigate central Bali. It is therefore of the utmost importance. The temple priests say that the lake is fed by springs located at each of the wind directions. Each of the springs is the origin of water for that particular region of central Bali. So, farmers from North Bali collect their holy water from the northern spring of the lake and so on.

Ulun Danu Temple lies by the western banks of Lake Bratan in the Bedugul Highlands at a level of 1239m, is one of the most picturesque and most photographed temples in Bali. Ulun Danu is inside the caldera of the now extinct volcano Gunung Catur. It is one of the main sources of irrigation in the Balinese highlands, and so the temple is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the lake goddess.

Bali: Path to Happiness

Bali: Path to Happiness

Everyone in Bali smiles. Big, broad, beaming smiles. And all that’s necessary to evoke it is eye contact. Even when they may be preoccupied with weaving their scooters through traffic or carrying a heavy, flailing pig across the road, you only have to hint at a smile from your own lips and the response is immediate and electrifying.

“Transport?” queried a smiling young man on a sidewalk in Ubud, an artsy town in the south-eastern hills. It’s a frequent offer on the streets of nearly every town in Bali. Everyone with a car will offer you a ride for a small price. You may say “no thank you” seven times on Monkey Forest Road in Ubud. But what’s heart-warming is that you will always receive an enthusiastic “Welcome!” in response.

As one of Indonesia’s luxury destinations, Bali is a truly service-oriented society and economy. Away from the resorts on the coast, there is less commercial zeal and more genuine friendliness. Culturally, Bali differs from other Indonesian islands, and indeed is an exception in this predominantly Muslim country with its Hindu-Buddhist history. It is this history that shapes the Balinese approach to life and the Balinese landscape.

Exploring the surroundings of Ubud on bike is perhaps the best way to take in the beautiful landscape, with all its rice terraces, temples, villages and cackling roosters. I signed up for a daytrip with Arung from Bali Moon Group. We began with a morning stop at an eclectic orchard growing everything from mangosteen, papaya and peanuts to cacao, coffee beans and tea leaves. Arung also introduced us to salak, a fruit with a brown, snake-scaled skin that looks like a nut inside and tastes like mixture of apple and pear.

Bali: Path to Happiness

After an invigorating ginger tea we were driven up to the edge of Mount Batur. The mountain bikes were unloaded and we were ready to start off downhill back towards Ubud. Arung had assured us back in the office that it was “all downhill”, but some of us were taken aback by how steep downhill can be. And the road was just a rocky path. One of the English girls on the excursion already wanted to make use of the trailing van service that carried our backpacks, but was persuaded to stick with it since it would get easier.

Our reward, when it began to level out, was a school full of excited children running towards the road to greet us. Six and seven year old boys were exploding with excitement, seemingly overwhelmed by such an unexpected visit from strangers. “Hallo! Hallo!” they squealed, vying to make eye contact with any one of the cyclists and jumping for high-fives. Wide-eyed awe and giggles rippled through the crowd as our group responded to their eagerness. It felt like the Tour de France. A few boys ran with the bikes until they were out-paced or came to the end of the village.

We cycled along rice paddies, many of them flocked by ducks feeding on leftover grains. In the rolling countryside I could hear the lovely sound of bamboo music and wind chimes everywhere. We passed through several more villages, all laid out on a sloping north-south axis and flanked by walled enclosures that are the typical Balinese. Each had an elaborately carved gateway and immediately behind it a wall, the aling-aling, to keep floating evil spirits from sweeping in through the open gateway.

In one village an old man on a moped scooted up beside me to ride tandem and indulge in conversation. His smile was wide, his questions direct. “Where you from? Where you stay? Where you go?” He exudes a pride in managing dialogue with a foreigner and brushes off the cajoling of youngsters. As we neared the open countryside he veered off back into his village and signalled his final sentence with a wave,”The Balinese people welcome you. Good time.”

Everyone, just everyone, genuinely wants to have contact and wish you well. When we came to the end of our cycle we were invited into a family home. The residential compound had sleeping pavilions for extended family members, a fountain in the middle, a temple and a low table for us to share dinner. A typical Indonesian meal is a selection of hot and cold plates, with spicy meats, peanut sauces and sautéed vegetables. Everyone was exhausted from the combination of heat and pedalling, and completely ready to feast on the buffet.