The Kecak Fire Dance is an elaborate performance based on the Hindu epic, Ramayana. It's performed by about 50 people with a large portion of them being tasked with chanting the famous "chak, chak, chak" sound and performing basic routines while seated on the ground. These group of men create the ethereal, trance-like atmosphere of the dance while other dancers dressed in elaborate costumes play out the story in dramatic movements reminiscent of a theatre performance.
The Ramayana story portrayed in the dance originates in India and has spread to many parts of Asia, especially South East Asia. It's believed that Hindu teachings arrived in Bali around 100 BC and since then the epic of Ramayana has been a big part of Balinese culture as well as religious and moral teachings.
The dance starts with a group of male dancers coming onto the stage chanting the famous "chak, chak, chak" sound and then sitting cross-legged in a circle. Then the story starts with the two protagonists, Rama and Sita performing a beautiful dance portraying their love for each other. Without spoiling the story, Sita then gets abducted by the demon Ravana and brought to Lanka (believed to be current-day Sri Lanka). Rama, along with his companions including Hanuman, a well-known Hindu deity then goes on a quest to rescue Sita.
The Kecak dance convincingly depicts Rama's journey, the interaction between the characters, and the fights and conflicts which makes for a gripping performance. The "fire" in the Kecak fire dance comes when Ravana tries to burn Hanuman alive, and of course, it's depicted in the dance by burning a few bunches of wood which burn brightly but quickly into beautiful floating embers.
If you're wondering where to see a Kecak dance in Bali, the answer is at Pura Luhur at Uluwatu. The dance is performed daily in the evenings at the temple's circular outdoor amphitheatre backed by the Indian Ocean. Watching the dance as the sun sets is something you have to experience in Bali. With the orange sky slowly turning dark as the dance progresses, coupled with the entrancing singing and chanting, the performance is something you won't forget.
While there are multiple places where you can watch the Kecak dance in Bali, Uluwatu Temple is considered the best venue to experience it. Besides the beautiful scenery and ambience that the temple has, it also holds a large significance to the island. Built on the very edge on the south-west of Bali, the temple is believed to protect the island. It's also one of Bali's nine key directional temples.
Located in the Kuta South District of Badung, Bali, Uluwatu Temple is about 25 kilometres south of Kuta. While you can drive there, the most convenient way to get to the temple is generally on a guided tour (which we can arrange for you at Club Med Bali). On the tour, you'll be able to explore the stunning temple grounds and watch the famed Kecak dance in action. The temple is open to visitors daily from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., but worshippers can enter at any time.
Watching the Kecak dance is a magical experience and Bali's Uluwatu Temple is arguably the best place to do it. With this dance, you'll not only get to experience a powerful piece of performance art, but also learn about a big part of Balinese culture and religion. Book your stay at Club Med Bali if you want convenient tours to experience Uluwatu's Kecak Dance or explore the rest of Bali. See you soon!