Traditional Balinese dance and music performances in Ubud

Unusual melodies awaken you from your thoughts. Sounds that seem slightly disruptive, like speedy drivers on a silent road, suddenly envelop you. You might not know what to think of this music that´s at once exotic and bewitching.

What you do know is that you simply can´t help but be intrigued by it all: the all-male Gamelan orchestra who elicits the traditional Indonesian sounds from xylophones, drums, gongs, and other percussive instruments. The stunning backdrop of the performance stage, with its intricately ornated angkul-angkul traditional gate and guardian statues. The gorgeous Balinese dancers, expressing the depth and versatility of their cultural stories and myths with such passion and precision.

There is grace in their movements, there is a pure embodiment of all that´s good, enticing and seductive about the Balinese culture. Theirs is the perfect blend of spirituality and sensuality, always offered up to the higher realms they so believe in.

Balinese dancers in Ubud, photo by Aditya Agarwal from Pexels

The accompanying Gamelan-music roots´ lie in an even older past than the Hindu-Buddhist origins of Balinese faith. They are a mesmerizing remnant of indigenous art forms that dominated the cultural expressions of Indonesia during its earliest records.

To get a taste of this very particular cultural phenomenon, head to Ubud royal palace at about 6:45 Pm as each night starting at 7:30 PM there´ll be a variety of rich dances shown there. The royal palace, known as Puri Saren Palace to the locals, is one of Ubud´s cultural hot-spots located along the town´s bustling main road Jalan Raya Ubud. The performances being shown there include Barong Dance, Mahabharata and Legong Dance… take your pick and expect to be wowed. To help you figure out which dance performance you might be most drawn to, here a little insight into two typical types of Balinese dance:

The Barong Dance is where Barong, a creature akin to a lion in the mythology of Bali, meets Rangda, badass-demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders. Sounds a bit like Game of Thrones, doesn´t it? Well, it´s not entirely the same, but there is an epic battle to behold, a war between good, mirrored in Barong, the king of the spirits, and evil, in the form of Rangda. I could go on a feminist rant here due to “good” appearing in the form of a male figure and “bad” personified in a female. But fear not, I won´t. The dance is still an amazing sight to be enjoyed, after all!

The Legong Dance, traditionally performed by girls who have not reached puberty, enacts different traditional tales, one of them telling the story of the King of Lasem, a true heroic romance. Interestingly enough, according to legend, Legong dance came into being through a dream vision! The prince of Sukawati is said to have had a feverish dream in which two girls danced to Gamelan music. Subsequently, being the inspired guy he was, the prince arranged for such dream dances to be performed in real life.

Another story version of Legong´s possible origins states that it came into being through the sanghyang dedari, a ceremony involving voluntary possession of two little girls by beneficent spirits. Sounds kinda creepy, though, right? Again, fear not, the dance performances are absolutely mindblowing anyways, no matter where their origins really lie.

Legong dancers at Ubud Royal Palace. Photo: Saranabhi/Wikimedia commons

No matter which performance you choose to watch in the end, you can´t really go wrong: each one of them will be like a window into a very different world and enticing in its own right. Have you ever seen a traditional Balinese dance before? How did you feel about it?

Practical information:

  • The Easiest way to get tickets:  If you are around Jalan Raya Ubud in the afternoon, you´ll most likely run into street vendors offering tickets to the nightly spectacles. Otherwise, just head directly to Ubud Royal palace no later than 7 pm to buy your tickets at the door.
  • Performance time and duration:  Nightly performances start at 7:30 PM every day of the week and last for an hour.
  • How much does it cost me? You´ll be 100.000 IDR poorer per person, yet a lot richer in spirit!
  • Where was it again? At Ubud Royal Palace, Jalan Raya Ubud No 8, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, World.


Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Traditional Balinese dance and music performances in Ubud

  1. These photos are wonderful. It appears to be an amazing dance. Most likely mesmerizing everyone who witnesses it first hand. Thank you for sharing this with us. Tu blog y su informativos y hermosospublicaciones siempre me asombran.

    I have some messages from you that I will be replying to you shortly.
    I took a blogging/technology break over the holidays. It was very refreshing.

    So, apologies for the delay in my responses.
    I sincerely hope your holidays were festive and full of warmth.

    Amigo, espero que este nuevo año llena su corazón con nuevas aventuras, felicidad, inspiración y amor. Aprecio su amistad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hola Drew, que te puedo decir, me tocaste el alma con tu comentario tan bonito!! Muchisimas gracias! Thanks so much for your heartfelt comment and appreciation of the photos and post and my blog in general. It always fills me with gratitude, encouragement and joy! Good on you for taking a technology break over the holidays, breaks like that are much needed sometimes. Gracias por todos tus deseos tan bellos tambien! Yo tambien aprecio tu amistad 🙂 Y te deseo que 2019 te llene con inspiracion (eso siempre es crucial, no), con salud, con muchas sonrisas y risas que vengan del alma, y quien sabe, quizas con una musa de carne y hueso!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 😉 Glad I made you smile. Those embodied muses can be freaking hard to come by sometimes!! And sometimes, they simply appear… Un abrazo desde la distancia!

    Like

  3. most beautifully
    expressed 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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