Barong is probably the most well known dance. It is also another story telling dance, narrating the fight between good and evil. This dance is the classic example of Balinese way of acting out mythology, resulting in myth and history being blended into one reality. The story is about Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the 10th century, who was condemned by Erlangga’s father because she practiced black magic. After she became a widow, she summoned all the evil spirits in the jungle, the leaks and the demons, to come after Erlangga. A fight occurred, but she and her black magic troops were too strong that Erlangga had to ask for the help of Barong, the magical protector of Balinese villages. Barong came with Erlangga’s soldiers, and fight ensued. Rangda casted a spell that made Erlangga soldiers all wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong casted a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. At the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away. The masks of Barong and Rangda are considered sacred items. Before they are brought out, a priest must be present to offer blessings by sprinkling them with holy water taken from Mount Agung, and offerrings must be presented. The are several versions of the Barong Dance during Galungan Kuningan festivals. There are Barong Ket, Barong Asu (Dog Barong), Barong Macan (Tiger Barong), Barong Gajah (Elephant Barong), Barong Bangkal (Pig Barong) – wanders from door to door to cleanse the territory of evil influences.
Kecak dance is perhaps the most stunning of all the Balinese dances. The story line of the dance is taken from the Hindu epic Ramayana that tells the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of Princess Sinta, who has been kidnapped by the evil King Rahwana. Prince Rama was able to rescue Princess Sinta with the help of the white monkey armies. The word Kecak is derived from the “chak-chak” sounds, the chanting ‘monkey’ chorus. Unlike other dances, there is no gamelan orchestra accompanying it. Instead, a group of over 150 bare-chested men make an amazing synchronized chak-chak sound while swaying their bodies and waving their hands, acting as the various monkey armies that are featured in the story.
Legong Keraton Dance
In legends, Legong is the heavenly dance of divine nymphs. Of all classical Balinese dances, it remains the quintessence of femininity and grace. The most popular Legong dance is Legong Kraton (Legong of the Palace). Formerly, the dance was patronized by local kings and held in a residence of the royal family. Dancers were recruited from the aptest and prettiest children. Today, the Legong dancers are still very young. The dance is performed by three dancers: a female attendant of the palace and two identically dressed legongs who act the roles of royal persons. The story derives from the history of East Java in the 12th and 13th centuries. A king finds the maiden Rangkesari lost in the forest. He takes her home and locks her in a house of stone. Rangkesari’s brother, the Prince of Daha, threatens war unless she is set free. Rangkesari begs her captor to avoid war by giving her liberty, but the king prefers to fight. On his way to battle, he encounters a bird of ill omen that predicts his death. In the fight that ensues he is killed. The dance dramatizes the farewells of the King as he departs for the battlefield and his ominous encounter with the bird. The dancers flow from one identity into the next without disrupting the harmony of the dance. They may act as the double image of one character and their movements marked by tight synchronization. Then they may split, each enacting a separate role, and come together again. In a love scene in which they rub noses, the King takes leave of Rangkesari. She repels his advances by beating him with her fan, and he departs in anger, soon to perish on the battlefield.
Sanghyang Jaran Dance
Sanghyang Jaran dance is performed by a man dancer who tramples on flaming coals riding a hobby horse made out of palm leaves. The red hot coals are scattered, and the dancer trances like a horse, snorting and neighing, seemingly unscathed by his torment. The dance is believed to have the power to invite the gods or sacred spirits to enter the body of the dancers and put them in a state of trance. It dates back to the ancient Pre-Hindu culture, a time when Balinese people strongly believed that a dance could cure sickness and disease. Sanghyang Jaran dance is usually performed in the fifth or sixth month of Balinese calendar as it is believed that during these months, Balinese people are vulnerable to all kinds of illnesses.