Kecak (pronounced: /’ke.tʃak/, roughly “KEH-chahk”, alternative spelling: Ketjak, Ketjack) is a Balinese art drama that mainly tells about the Ramayana and is played mainly by men. This dance is performed by many (tens or more) male dancers who sit in a circle and with a certain rhythm shout “cak” and raise both arms, depicting the story of Ramayana when a line of monkeys helped Rama fight Ravana. However, Kecak originates from the sanghyang ritual, a dance tradition in which the dancer will be in an unconscious state, communicating with God or the spirits of the ancestors and then conveying their hopes to the community.

The dancers who sit in a circle wear checkered cloth like a chessboard around their waists. Apart from these dancers, there are also other dancers who play Ramayana characters such as Rama, Shinta, Ravana, Hanuman, and Sugriwa.

The Kecak dance song is taken from the sanghyang dance ritual. Additionaly, do not use musical instruments. Only use kincringan worn on the feet of dancers who play the characters of the Ramayana.

Around the 1930s Wayan Limbak worked with German painter “Walter Spies” to create the Kecak dance based on the Sanghyang tradition and parts of the Ramayana story. Wayan Limbak popularized this dance while traveling the world with his troupe of Balinese dancers.

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