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Ubud Dalem Temple
Ubud Main Road, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali - Indonesia
Email : Info@fabulousubud.com
Day : Monday & Friday / Time: 07.30 pm / Venue : Dalem Ubud TempleProgram :
A mesmerizing theatrical experience, the Kecak is essentially a choir dance performed by a large moving mass of bare-chested male dancers in concentric circles, simulated to the sounds of the Gamelan Suara, enacting a battle from the epic, Ramayana. It gets its name from the hypnotic and repetitive chorus that these men chant rhythmically in perfect unison - 'chak-ka-chak-ka-chak.'
The Kecak was initially choreographed by Walter Spies in the year 1931, while he served as a consultant to a German company during the making Baron von Plessen's film Die Insel der Damonen (Isle of Demons). The dance soon became popular with tourists as the "Monkey Dance" referring to the monkey like act of the dancers, enacting the role of the monkey soldiers sent by King Rama to rescue his wife Sita from Rahwana's imprisonment in Alengka. The male chorus, originated from the trance inducing Sanghyang Dedari blends eloquently with the Ramayana ballet to present a one of its kind exhilarating experience. This form of Kecak is devoid of any religious significance, catering majorly to the tourist appetite.
Some 100 to 150 loin-clothed men sit in five or six concentric circles, in the center of which is strategically placed a flickering torch casting shadows across the stage. At a signal from the orchestra, the group begins to sway back and forth, circling and bending, their hands outstretched, torsos rising and falling replicating wave-like motions and forming some sort of eerie quivering shadows in the faint light. Suddenly they throw out their arms and start to shake their fingers wildly and finally flee into the diminishing lamplight. Gradually, the rhythm of the surging mass gains speed, arms flutter while dancers perform a fast interlocking vocal pattern of shouts, grunts, screeches, and hisses with remarkable precision and organ-like volume.
Prince Rama, the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Ayodhya has been banished by his father, the King Dasarata upon persuasion by Rama's stepmother. This Kecak performance is usually based on a short episode from the Ramayana when Rama, his brother, and his wife Sita are exiled to the dark forests of Dandaka. The dance narrates the kidnapping of Sita by the evil demon-King Rahwana and her rescue by her husband with the help of Hanoman and his army of monkeys.
This performance in particular is based on episodes around that the time when the Situbanda Bridge has been completed; Rama, his brother Laksamana, Hanoman, accompanied by his monkey army under the leadership of Sugriwa attack the Kingdom of Alengka, aiming at destroying Rahwana and rescuing Sita from his clutches.
ACT I: Rama and Lakshmana declare war on Alengka
Geared with the support of monkey troops, the Situbanda bridge has been successfully built. Rama and Lakshmana accompanied by the monkey general Sugriwa, Hanuman, the monkey troops and Wibisana (Rahwana's brother who happens to be an ally of Rama) embark on their mission to destroy Rahwana and rescue Sita and attack Rahwana's armies.
Act II: Rahwana threatens Sita
The act opens with Rahwana getting more and more desperate to marry Queen Sita, who he has kidnapped and imprisoned in Taman Asoka, Alengka, while Sita continues to rebuff him and evade his advances. Sita accompanied and comforted by Trijata, Rahwana's niece, sadly and listlessly awaits her fate, while Rahwana who is absolutely besotted with her, comes to the park and tries to persuade her to be his wife, luring her with wealth and jewels, but Sita remains unmoved.
Next Rahwana tries to trick Sita by presenting before her, an illusion of a beheaded Rama before her in the hope that on seeing her husband dead she will give her consent to marry him. However on the contrary, Sita is shocked and grieves but adamantly refuses to oblige Rahwana and looks at him with disdain and tells him that she would rather prefer death to being the wife of an evil demon who completely lacks humanity and compassion. This infuriates Rahwana beyond control and he is ready to marry her by force, threatening Sita with his keris. Thinking that her beloved husband is dead Sita draws out a dagger to stab herself. The kind hearted Trijata, who secretly empathizes with Sita's plight calms her down and also handles Rahwana with tact and sends him away, promising to persuade Sita to marry him.
All this while, Hanoman, hidden amidst the foliage of the trees, had been quietly watching all that had transpired. Presently, he approaches Sita and presents himself as a messenger of Rama, her husband. At first Sita looks at him suspiciously and is hesitant to believe him. But then Hanoman hands over Rama’s ring to her and she is overjoyed that her husband is indeed alive and well, and gives her hairpin to Hanoman as a token to convey her welfare to Rama. But her joy is short lived and soon Sita and Hanoman are discovered by Rahwana's demonic soldiers and a fierce fight ensues and they set Hanoman afire. But fearless Hanoman with his tail ablaze creates havoc in the whole of Alengka and sets the kingdom ablaze.
Act III: Meganada ensnares Rama and Lakshmana
Meganada, Rahwana's courageous and powerful son, appears and engages with them in a fierce battle. Equipped with super natural powers Meganada shoots a magical arrow Nagapasa at the two brothers. This arrow turns into a serpent and ensnares them along with their army of monkeys, overpowering them and rendering them immobile. Rama then quietly invokes the gods above in heaven for help and the mighty bird Garuda, a good friend of King Dasarata (Rama's father) comes to his rescue. Eventually Meganada is defeated and destroyed.
Next, Prahasta, Rahwana’s war minister gets killed and his armies fearfully withdraw from battlefield. There is a lull in the battle while Rama and the monkey army stand unopposed. A paranoid Rahwana now sends orders for his brother, Kumbakarna to be awakened from deep slumber and sends him to assume leadership of the Alengka forces.
Kumbakarna initially disagrees with Rahwana who wants to get Queen Sita to be wife forcibly, but finally has no choice but to obey his King. Thus upholding the pride of his country and his King and safeguarding his people, a reluctant Kumbakarna goes to war.
Act IV: The Death of Kumbakarna
The battle with King Rama is resumed with Kumbhakarna leading the Alengka forces. The swarming monkeys cannot contain the powerful Kumbhakarna and what ensues is a long battle where Rama and Lakshmana are compelled to make use of their fearsome weapons in the face of Kumbakarna's formidable strength. Kumbhakarna receives many mortal wounds, but continues to wage war, and ultimately falls to the ground, severely injured yet alive.
Kumbakarna’s, brother Wibisana who had chosen to forsake his evil brother Rahwana, is an ally of Rama, discovers him in this helpless state and is filled with compassion and sadness, Wibisana then begs Rama for forgiveness on behalf of Kumbhakarna and appeals that Kumbhakarna be allowed to die the death of a true warrior and be saved from a slow, painful death and send his soul to heaven.
Sanghyang Jaran Dance
The Sanghyang dance belongs to the trance dance genre. There are 6 kinds of Sanghyang dances widely performed by the Balinese people: Sanghyang Dedari, Sanghyang Deling, Sanghyang Jaran, Sanghyang Bojog, Sanghyang Celeng and Sanghyang Grobogan. The unique feature of the Sanghyang dance is the courage of the dancers who in a state of 'Kesurupan' or trance, calmly step and walk through the red-hot coals unflinchingly as if they were walking through cold water. This dance is believed to have the power to evoke 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 the Balinese people strongly believed that dance could avert sickness and disease.
In case of the Sanghyang Jaran in particular, the entranced dancers replicate the movements of soldiers on horseback, perched atop rocking horses made of coconut leaf midrib, accompanied by singing and the tetabuhan. It is said that during the course of the dance, the dancers are possessed by an ancestral deity, Gandarwa (celestial soldier on horseback). The dancers for this sacred dance are usually the 'Pemangku' (temple priest) or a group of chosen men, who have been put into a state of trance by the waft of incense and the repetitive, hypnotic sounds of the gamelan. At the end of the dance, dancers are awakened by 'tirtha' (holy water), sprinkled on them by the temple priest.
Traditionally this dance was performed during the fifth or sixth month of the Balinese traditional calendar, as it was believed that during these particular months, the Balinese are vulnerable to all kinds of disasters and epidemic. But currently the Sanghyang Trance dance can be enjoyed almost every day as an entertainment for tourists.