Blessed with deep original root culture, Balinese people live and breathe their culture and embodied them in certain aspects of tradition and arts. Dance is one form used by Balinese to express their Hindu believes in a sense of movement. There are three main categories of Balinese dance; wali (sacred dance done only for religious ritual purpose), bebali (semi-sacred and not necessarily for religious purpose) and balih-balihan (created for entertainment and festive purpose). In contrast to contemporary dance in which the movements are free and only constrained by the limits of the body, the dance gesture of a Bali traditional dance have been kept unchanged since first originated as a part of religious ritual done in the Pura (Hindu temple) to give praise or worship their deities, and passed from generation to generation. Here are some lists of the most iconic dance around the island.
Considered as one of the most important ritual in ancient Balinese era, Baris is a dance to glorify the manhood of triumphant Balinese warrior. Exclusively performed by male, Baris depicts the feeling of young warrior prior to battle. There are over thirty different types of Baris, but it can be mainly differed into two types; solo and group. Solo dance is called ‘Baris Tunggal’, in which the dancers perform alone.Baris can be performed by up to 40 dancers at once.
One of the most notable Balinese dances, Legong dance is performed by pre-pubescent girls at royal court to please the king and his guest. The dancers are regarded highly in the society and usually become wives of royal personages or wealthy merchants. It is a refined dance form characterized by intricate finger movements, complicated footwork, expressive gestures and facial expressions.
A unique dance from Ubud, Kebyar Trompong is a form of solo dance where the performer use his body to interpret every nuance of the music in powerful facial expressions and movement, all while playing a traditional instrument called trompong. It is said to fully master this dance, one must be able to play every musical instrument of Balinese traditional orchestra.
The act of Tari Topeng in Bali can be traced back to the 8th century. Narrated by ‘penasar’ who wore jawless mask to let them spoke freely, Tari Topeng tells the tale of ancient kings or folklore while occasionally throws in some joke, tackle recent issues or local gossip to draw laughter or response from the audience. The story ark is built around one-dimensional characters which comically personifies the act of human nature, often shows the opposite and contradictory side of an aspect at once; sacred and profane, beauty and ugliness, and so on.