Indonesia and the Balinese Dance

Indonesia and the Balinese Dance

The tourist capital of Indonesia is, of course, Bali and many tourists have been fascinated by Balinese dance, the ancient dance tradition that is a part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people.  Balinese dance is amazing!  It’s dynamic and extremely expressive. Here are some fascinating facts about Balinese dance:

  • It’s very dramatic and dancers use angular body gestures together with fingers, hands, head and eyes movement.
  • Some of the dances are ritualistic dance dramas which involve Rangda, the witch and the beast Barong.
  • Most of dances in Bali are connected to Hindu rituals, such as the Sanghyang Dedari sacred dance than invoked Hyang spirits that is believed to turn the dancers into a trance during the performance.
  • Training as a Balinese dance starts as young as 7 – and often even younger in a more relaxed way as children can learn the craft from their mothers as soon as they are born!
  • In the womb future dancers are played Balinese music and are taught to dance with their hands before they can walk!

Balinese dance has 3 genders: Male, female, and in-between. These are devised by “Agem” (Basic posture).

  • Male dance Agem : Put right and left feet about 2 feet apart. Your body has to be straight and erect. Keep your shoulders and arms up as high as your ears.
  • Female dance Agem: Put right and left feet about 1 fist apart. Your back has to make an arch. This arch is called “chunked”. Keep your arms up as high as your shoulders.
balinese female dance agem voyage fairtrade 
A group of Female Balinese Dancers, Indonesia
  • In-between dance Agem: Put right and left feet about 1 and half feet long apart. Your body has to be straight and up. Keep your arms up higher than your shoulders.
Indonesia and the Balinese Dance
  • Most dances are accompanied by a Balinese orchestra called “gamelan” – the most common one consists of 25– 35 people. There are xylophone-like instruments, gongs, and percussion instruments resembling cymbals, flutes and drums.  Balinese dance and music are very closely connected – the dance movements are often related to drum sounds.
Best Indonesia and the Balinese Dance
Balinese Gamelan Orchestra
  • Each dance piece has different costumes and make-up. These depend on the gender and the character of the piece.
  • Most female and in-between dancers put on various colours of make-up. They wear a crown or put both real and golden flowers in their hair. They wear sarongs and wrap a long sash from their hips to their breasts as well as several gold decorations.
Indonesia and the Balinese Dance
  • Male dancers also put on make-up. They use more red colour for their eyes and cheeks and their eyebrows are coloured-in to enhance their masculinity. They wear a crown and put on a cloak. They carry a sword on their shoulders and also wear masks. 
Indonesia and the Balinese Dance 

Male Balinese Dancer wearing a Crown


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