Hypnotic Kecak

The Dancing Island

Signature trips

This dance is performed every late afternoon against the spectacular backdrop of Uluwatu temple, perched on Bali’s cliffs in the southwestern part of the island. This is an excellent way to learn more about the fabulous Balinese dances. Sometimes called the monkey dance after the animals represented by the chorus, the Keçak gets its Balinese name from the hypnotic chattering sounds made by a cappella choir. Chanting nothing more than ‘tjak tjak tjak tjak tjak ‘, the chorus of fifty or more men uses seven different rhythms to create the astonishing music that accompanies the drama.

Bare-chested, wearing black-and-white checked cloth around their waists and a single red hibiscus behind the ear, the men sit cross-legged in tight concentric circles, occasionally swaying and clapping their hands in unison. The narrative is taken from a core episode of the Ramayana, focused on the kidnapping of Sita by the demon king Rawana. The Keçak was invented in 1931 by the dancer I Wayan Limbak, who adapted the chants from the sacred trance dances. Ideally you may conclude this leisurely afternoon trip with a sumptuous seafood dinner on the beach of Jimbaran.