Kecak Fire Dance is a newly created dance which was created in 1930 by Balinese artist together with Dutch painting artist Walter Spies. At the time Walter Spies lived in the town of Denpasar which was only a real small town with only one main road in the middle of the town we know now as Jalan Gajah Mada. While Walter Spies is said to have stayed at Kayu Mas village, around 1 km from the center of the town, and close to the palace of Badung which is now we know as city square and Bali Museum.
Kecak dance has become so popular among travelers of the five continents due to its character which is real dynamic and suitable with their spirit which is often expressed in cafes with discos although in different expression. A tour program that includes a visit to Kecak dance show can be selected from the list of optional tours by returning back to the previous page or click the Bali Tour Program, or click first the text with link Uluwatu Kecak tour at the right side of this text.
Seeing from the fragment and style of the dance writer think that the dance has got the inspiration from the tradition of north Bali men which is called megenjekan, a situation of relaxing after harvesting time while enjoying drink together on an altar with roof and open sided, making choir with the same rhythm and temp, dancing to express their emotion together with their companion for drinking on the pavilion. Yet it seems that not all in complete manner that this tradition was copied for the new Kecak dance, as during the presentation on the stage this dance is far more refined both from the theme, costume and all aspects of the dance. While for megenjekan at north Bali which is practiced by men has no plot of theme or has no frame of concept, just what appear from their head then others follow.
The similarity of megenjekan and Kecak dance that soon identified is both without musical instrument, both use human voice as the music presentation to back up the whole presentation from the beginning until finish. The choir is presented by men of around 50 persons or more with only view syllables such as ” cak cak .. cak …, syur, syir” which are tensioning or lowering according to their emotion and situation of the dialog. This rhythm of the choir is aimed to back up the spirit of the dance just as the music plays role to a drama with music. Which is specific to this dance is the costume of the men which is only below body is covered with chequered cloth, while brest up is bare. The number of dance is in a big number which is often giving an impression that the dance is a mass dance.
Chequered cloth which resemble the chess board is much used by Balinese to homage the nature. For example attached on the big trees, so people will not cut or even giving small trouble to the trees. Lately a small altar will be built on the bottom of the trees and given the chquered cloth which means that no one can trouble the tree. It is used also on the places where one think that people start to damage forest here will be put small altar with chequered cloth, and some time with the sculpture of Ganesha to make the people wish to cut trees made to feel deterred. Most of Kecak dance take Ramayana Epic as the theme of their dance, especially the episode of Prince Rama and his wife Princess Shinta and his brother Laksamana as the legal heirs of the throne were exiling themselves to the forest to give his brother Bharata to sit on the throne. This exile has brought the situation become fatal for them when Princess Shinta was abducted by the king of Demon of Alengka Pura.
The abduction of Princess Shinta is the start of the big war called Bharata Yudha between Prince Rama assisted by the fleet of monkeys soldiers and the demon fleet of Rahwana of Alengka Pura. This is to teach people that everything of big or small conflict can be started by a woman that a man overprotects even to leave the throne and pampering life, and for a woman this is a learning that loyalty will win in whatever condition. The theme of the epic which is presented with Balinese spirit is very suitable for any age of Balinese, that is why actually Kecak dance has been reaching so much popularity compared to any dances that Bali has so far. Although the theme is taken from Indian epic, but in physical appearance and spirit are real Balinese. There is no indication of India or even a flicker of indication of India. This is the correct adoption of a culture which leave the original tradition incorporates the foreign aspect and used it to enrich their tradition, not changed into foreign culture so will abolish their personality.
Even some think that it was happened Balinization of all foreign aspects, as it will be very difficult for Indian to identify weather the dance is given Indian aspect unless they read the story first, and watch the dance many times, but not for Balinese, as they will soon understand what the dance is meant. At one point this dance has shown to the people that how big the role of the patriotism in the life of the people, and the role of woman on the side of a man as life partner is the key of the success in the hard struggle of war even to face such a strong power like Alengka Pura with much more soldier in number. The appeal of Princess Shinta has arising such a great power of Prince Rama to subdue a great kingdom of Alengka Pura and the dance ended with a happy unity of both.