In many cultures dance and drama are important to pass on customs and mores from one generation to the next. Such is true in Bali where dance & drama has historically been used to pass down cultural values through the tales of Ramayana, Mahabarata and other epic stories from Balinese history. It is interesting to note that the Balinese never tire of watching these dances even though they may have seen them umpteen times before and know each movement by heart.
If you are interested in learning more about these or other Balinese dances, some hotels have classes (great way for the children to spend the day) or you may contact the National State of Indonesian Arts (Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia) in Denpasar - Bali. Telephone: 227 316.
Balinese Dance and Drama Performance
Knowing that it is difficult to enjoy something you do not understand, we've outlined a few of the more popular dances below. These dances have chosen because they showcase a wide variety of dance styles, use different types of musical instruments to accompany them and because there are regularly scheduled performances that are easy to find. As you will notice most the dances revolve around the Ramayana epic. The difference is that different parts of the Ramayana story are used to suit different types of music and dances (i.e. romance, war, moral story etc.) When performed in the villages during important ceremonies some of these dances may well go on for hours - but the regularly scheduled performances last about one hour. We encourage you to see as many dances as possible - they are after all one of the reasons Bali is so special and your interest will help ensure that tradition of Balinese dance continues.