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Cultural and dance shows?

El Dorado Hills...
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Cultural and dance shows?

I'm a bit confused about the different kinds of cultural and dance shows offered around Bali. Next month my 17 year old son and I will be staying in Sanur and Ubud. We plan to take day trips to various places around Bali. Which shows are the best ones to see? Where is the best place to see each kind of show? How much should I expect to pay at these? Should I book these in advance or wait until I get there?

Thanks for your help in sorting this out.

London
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1. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

This is not a bad list of scheduled dances

http://www.bali-day-trip.com/bali-dance.html

In very simplistic terms, the most popular are the kecak dance: where a chorus of men dressed in black and white checked cloths sit in a large circle and make the 'ketchak' sound while the action proceeds. This usually ends with a separate fire and trance dance; the Legong is where the young women with heavily painted faces and rich costumes bend their bodies, faces and hands in exaggerated ways to tell the story. The Barong is the one with the big dragon that you will probably recognise. They all tell stories from the Ramayana.

I'm no expert, but I'm sure there will someone who can elaborate further and point out any errors in what I've said. :-)

I'd recommend seeing them at night time, rather than doing one of the morning shows (which attract busloads of tourists). They take on their own magic at night. My favourite venue is the Pura Dalem in Ubud, the entrance is via stone steps lit by little tea lights and decorated with frangipanis and the performance usually takes place in front of a temple, beneath the branches of a giant banyan tree.

For all of these shows you can buy tickets at the door or a few hours beforehand if you're in the area. In Ubud the price is around 75,000-80,000 rupiah. It may be more for the fire dances at very popular tourist places like Uluwatu (on the cliff top) or Tanah Lot (temple by the sea).

Bali, Indonesia
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2. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

In very brief words: Ubud is considered the "cultural heart" of Bali partly because of the large and varied communities of excellent gamelan and dance and shadow puppet troupes that have been in this area for many years, even predating the Dutch colonialization. If the huge range of performances, at least 8 every night in various venues around Ubud, is confusing, you can easily You Tube snippets of performances that will give you some insight into what it looks and sounds like.

However, videos cannot really adequately show you what it is like to see any of these performances. Number one, if you have the chance, see one at a regular temple ceremony. If there is none that are convenient to you, by all means see them at a venue that offers regularly scheduled performances. They start around 7:30 and normally last about 75 minutes. Some start or end slightly different times so do check the schedules. All accomodation and the tourist information center will have the info. Some dances have free shuttles to performances. from the Wantilan Ubud. (cross roads near Ubud Palace.) Cost is between 75,000 to 100,000 in general, depending on various factors.

For the best authentic experience, I do highly suggest you see the night performances at Ubud and not at a venue where you will also be eating or sitting in a place that busses in tourists.

Actually, your question is a very timely one for me. I live in Ubud and often meet tourists who are sheepish about wanting to attend performances, as they think it's too "touristy." I mgiht do a separate post where I rant and rave, but in short, it's a wonderful thing to attend these shows and support the Balinese Hindu arts. These performers in Ubud are normal Balinese, most of whom started studying the arts before they could walk..and the small amount of money they collect from the performances go to the community organization to help maintain temples, buy equipment, and provide some rice and refreshment for the group. .These are the very same people who perform for the sacred temple ceremonies, and for some dances, if these particular rituals are not performed, the ceremony does not "take" and has to be redone completely.

I was at the Arma Museum for one of their wonderful performances this week. Beautiful grounds, lovely stage, 20 musicians in the gamelan orchestra. At least 10 dancers performing about 8 different temple dances. It was magical...but...

There were about 12 people in the audience, including my party of 5.

Eaton, Australia
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3. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

I really love the sound of the performance at Arma Museum. Must try and make it, when next we in Ubud :)

Ballina, Australia
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4. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

Hi chris, Karen C has given you a good link for dance schedules around Bali and she is correct in saying one of the most popular is the Kecak dance. It is the dance I like the least and find it extremely boring. You can hear it on the link.

Ubud is most definitely the place to see the different cultural dances and as you are staying in Ubud it will be ideal for you.

I know MangoMunky is very knowledgeable in the all things to do with Balinese culture and if she says ARMA Museum is worth going to, then I would make it my business to see a dance performance there.

This is another link for dance schedules but only for Ubud area.

balispirit.com/events/images/ubud-cultural-d…

Leeds, UK
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5. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

Hi Chris - just to add my two rupiah, as a first time visitor then the Kecak and fire and trance dance has the spectacle factor in my humble opinion. It is well worthwhile spending a little time on the Internet looking at the background, story and meaning behind the dance performances so you're not going in blind.

Bali, Indonesia
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6. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

LynnePP, thanks for the compliment but let's just say I am a fan and student of the culture!

Also, just a note, many of the dance performances have compilations of different dances . The Satuday night performance at Pura Dalem Ubud, has Legong, Barong, Baris and also some Kecak as I recall. the last time I was at the Pura Dalem was over 6 months ago so can't remember, and some things can change from time to time.

You can always call the tourist information center at (0361) 973 - 285 or ask at the front desk at the location which dances are included that evening.

El Dorado Hills...
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7. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

You are all such a great help!

So, I'll look on Youtube for some samples and check out your links.

So, my hotel in Ubud will be able to help me get tickets each night and know which shows are available that night in the area?

Also, many of the day tours seem to want to include a daytime show at some location. It sounds like it would be better for me to attend the night time shows instead, if I have a choice?

Is there enough variety that I could see a show 6 nights? I love the cultural shows, but if they seem very similar, my 17 year old son may be bored.

If I plan to go to Tanah Lot, is that the best place to see that kind of show offered there?

Thanks again!

London
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8. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

Chris, if you're staying in central Ubud there are always ticket sellers at the main cross road (in front of the palace and the markets) every day from late afternoon. They will be selling tickets to the various dances that are on that night. Alternately you can buy them from the tourist information booth which is close by. I would play it by ear and buy them on the night a few hours in advance, just to keep your options open. Otherwise you might find that you have gone on long walk and are way too far away and too tired to hurry back in time for a dance.

And yes, best to avoid those set group tours that take you to Batubulan at 9.30am for a Barong dance. It's very touristy and you'll have the hassle of the hawkers pestering you to buy sarongs and fans and other stuff.

With regard to the actual dances, they often hand out a little printout cheat sheet so that you've got some idea of what is happening storywise.

Bali, Indonesia
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9. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

I am not sure that Tanah Lot has Kecak at the moment. You might call them first before you make plans.

About the daytime shows: Also, when you look at "daytour" lists on the internet, a lot of them are taking big busses or are mimicking the big bus tours. They bring tourists to area near Batubulan because they receive "special consideration" for bringing people. I have heard feedback from people who have done this with a private driver and they thought it was ok. However, the people who said this had not seen any other programs in Ubud so it's hard for them to make a comparison.

Another thing to consider is that there is a huge amount of things to see and do in Bali during the daylight. If you use up your time to see the show in Batubulan during the day, well..it eats into your touring. If you see one of the many shows in Ubud during the evening, it's a good use of time!

And yes, it is often true that some venues and troupes hand out print outs of the evenings performances and explanations. However, not all venues or troupes do that and the very complicated stories (Mahabharata, Ramayana, and sometimes Balinese folk tales) are not very well explained in short pamphlets.

Also, these performances do not have reserved seating (AFAIK) , so you don't necessarily have to buy the ticket way in advance. If you buy from a driver or one of the people selling them on the sidewalk, you pay the same price but the troupe gives the seller a (very) small commission. Also, the performances at the Ubud Palace do have lots of bussed in tourists and tour groups so are usually over-crowded.

There is a very excellent book called "Balinese, Dance, Drama and Music" that is in bookstores here in Ubud that explains much of what you may see. There are many other books but that is one of the best avialble.

Enjoy!

10. Re: Cultural and dance shows?

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