Dance and Drama
There is no image more essentially Balinese than that of young dancers dressed in golden cloth, sporting crowns of flowers, and weaving about the stage to the accompaniment of the gamelan orchestra. It is instant enchantment.
Every village in Bali has at least one gamelan orchestra, and members of the village who are not painters, carvers or artisans, often participate as gamelan musicians or dancers.The gamelan orchestra is a mixture of mostly percussion instruments like Javanese metallophones, Chinese cymbals, xylophones, and handheld drums called kendhang. The music that they create is an integral element of temple rites, dance performances, mask plays, and processions.
Other performances in Bali include trance dances, the fabulous wayang kulit shadow puppet plays, the many types of Barong dance (the island’s morality play-cum-exorcism rite which springs up at most major temple festivals), as well as the riveting kecak dances with a capella music provided by a circle of chanting men, and visuals by actors who play out the story of the Ramayana inside the circle.
There are many excellent performances held for tourists in hotels and other venues in Ubud and the surrounding villages. However, it is well worth it to contact a local guide, don proper ceremonial attire, and be escorted to a Balinese temple festival to witness the real thing.