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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for The Top 5 Balinese Dances to See While in Bali – Watch the Local Moves
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The Top 5 Balinese Dances to See While in Bali – Watch the Local Moves

Add rich cultural dances to the list of things to see and do while in the Indonesian city of Bali and remember to extend your stay to cover all these essential bases.


Bali Agung Show

One is reminded of the Little Mermaid when watching the Bali Agung Show though it is not entirely based on marine life. The colours are eye-catching; the sounds are a twist of modernity and serious drama while the story is entirely about a local king and a Chinese queen's attachments which become complicated as a result of a water goddess. The theatre performance brings together over one hundred and fifty people who congregate every day of the week except Mondays to bring this story alive through their dance moves and theatrics.


Garuda Wisnu Kencana Performance

The costumes that are worn by the locals emanate the holistic culture of Indonesia and its links to neighbouring countries. The story seems to be religious as it discusses the endless tussle between goodness and evilness. It draws from the famous Ramayana which is based on an Indian poem written by Valmiki that seems to have laid the foundation for many of the cultural ties between the countries of the Indian subcontinent and the south-east Asian countries including Indonesia. The GWK as it is often referred to is performed outdoors; therefore it is best to be seen on dry days.


Surya Mandala Performance

Overseeing the same part of the Balinese Sea as the Studios at Alila Seminyak is the ancient Hindu shrine known as Tanah Lot Temple. Again there are connections to the Ramayana but is chiefly a fire dance where females clad in a traditional costume wear ornate headgear and balance a fire canister on their head. A group of males seat themselves on the ground at the perimeter of the performance and provide the music for the dance moves of the females. These dances commence after 7 pm as the golden flames of the fire can be seen clearly only when the sun is completely out.


Putra Barong and Kris Dance

The gentlemen take centre stage in this performance dressed in white sarongs which are adorned with black and white wraparounds and a red waistband. Their prop is a dagger in order to pay tribute to the goldsmiths and silversmiths of the area. These performances are held in the morning in Batubulan which is close to Ubud about an hour away from luxury hotels in Seminyak. What is special about most of these performances in Bali is the fact that people from the village closest to the performing venue are those who sing, dance and act, making the experience very real even for the observers.


Jambe Budaya Barong Dance

The dancers don on wooden masks similar to those found in Sri Lanka and engage in a musical drama that leaves the audience laughing. The costumes are heavy and form an important part of the message that the actors hope to convey. There are drawings from the Ramayana even in what is depicted through the Jambe Budaya Barong Dance where some act as monkeys and a few others act as creatures of the wild.