This is Balinese Monkey Dance better known as the a Fire dance, Recently, about 5 thousand people gathered, some whipping themselves into a trance, at Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia to pray for the return of tourism. That may sound crass and commercial but tourism is entwined in Bali’s spiritual, cultural and economic life. I have spent a lot of time in Bali over the years and I miss it. The last time I was there was just after the bombings a couple of years ago. Farmers, flower growers, artists, performers, were all devastated both morally and economically by that tragedy.
The Kecak Dance tells the Indian story of Ramayana. Rama, a warrior and rightful hier to the throne of Ayodya, is exiled with his wife Sita to a faraway desert. There, an evil king spies Sita, falls in love with her, and sends a golden deer to lure Rama away. Sita is captured, and Rama rounds up his armies to defeat those of the evil king and rescue her. Rama is the man in green dancing in the center of the circle, the golden deer is in yellow in the back.
What makes the Kecak such a fascinating dance to watch are the fifty or so men in the checkered pants. They are both the choir and the props, providing the music for the story in a series of constant vocal chants that change with the mood of the actors. They don’t sit still, either, they wave their arms to simulate fire, and reposition themselves around the stage to represent wind and fire, prison cells, and unseen hand of protection from the gods.