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Kecak Dance (Monkey Dance)

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Kecak dance or monkey dance has become a very popular show with tourists to Bali.
It was choreographed for tourists and the Balinese do not put on a kecak dance for their own purposes unlike other dances.

However it does have its roots in traditional Balinese dance and music. The gamelan is not present here but is replaced by a chorus of 50 over chanting men who sit in concentric circles around a large oil lamp chanting "cak, cak, cak." (pronounced "chak"). The chant although repetitive is not monotonous. Rather it is highly structured and follows ideas from modern Balinese music with interesting variations in pitch and rhythm.

The first thing you'll notice is that there is no musical accompaniment. The gamelan is not there. Rhythm is provided by a chanting 'monkey' chorus. The polyrhythmic sound of the chanting provides the name, 'Ke-chak'.

Taken from the Ramayana it tells the story of Rama, who with the help of the monkey army, tries to rescue his wife from the hold of the evil King Rawana.

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