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Modern 'Chak-a-chak-a-chak' dance developed

DENPASAR ( The modern Kecak dance has evolved in the Bona Village and Batubulan areas near Gianyar in East Bali, and is regularly performed in late afternoon, at around 6:30 p.m.

The kecak dance is an unusual one, and probably the best known of the many Balinese dances. When performed, it does not employ the use of gamelan as an accompaniment, but instead the background is provided by a chanting chorus of a large group of men producing the repetitious sound of 'chak-a-chack-chack'.

Originally, this chanting group was known as the kecak and was part of a Sang Hyang trance dance, which is performed to ward off evil spirits and diseases during times of plague. In the 1930s, the famous kecak dancer and founding father of this dance, Pak Limbak, went on to recount his engagements with Walter Spies.

When performed inside a temple area, the kecak dance is excellent entertainment for travellers to Bali, but it also has ritual purposes that many remain unaware of. It stimulates the invisible superpower to enter one of the group members until he is in a state of trance, and then casts away the evil spirits. Special offerings must be made before it is performed in order to clean the stage spiritually from the dirt (ie. of evil spirits).

Throughout the dance, the surrounding circle of men, all bare chested and wearing checked cloth around their waists, provide a non-stop accompaniment that rises to crescendo as they play the monkey army and fight it out with Rahwana and his cronies. The chanting is superbly synchronized.

The Kecak dance tells a tale from the Ramayana epic, one of the great Hindu holy books, about Prince Rama, his Princess Sita, and Rama's brother, Laksamana, who have been exiled from the kingdom of Ayodya and are wandering in the forest. The evil Rahwana, king of Alengka Pura, kidnaps Sita when Rama leaves her to help Laksamana (his brother) to catch a golden deer, which she very much wants.

Thousands of monkeys under the leader Hanuman (the white monkey) assist Rama to save his beloved wife. The drand finale is a great battle, where good wins out over evil and Rama and Sita returned home - but Rahwana and his brother Kumbakarna were killed by monkey troop.


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