Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kecak Dance

The official title was Kecak Fire and Trance Dance and it had nothing to do with the fire dancing and trance dances I have participated in at home. Ironically, at the end of my full day in the monkey forest I attended a dance show the most resembled the Monkey Chant where a large group of people sit in a tight circle many rows deep spreading outward basically mimicking a select few leaders in the neat the center, both physically and vocally. In this case they were all men, about 40 of them, and it was choreographed and well rehearsed. It used the same root chant "ta ta taka tataka tataka taka" - a more percussive sound sung in a rondo creating fast off beats like a triple-para-diddle snapping on a snare drum. Meanwhile, the group uses the same body movement, arms raised, shaking shoulders, leaning in one direction, sometimes lying back. Sometimes there is a lone soloist melodically carrying a background tune. There are abrupt temp changes and volume changes making the single hour and a half song exciting and dynamic. I'm pretty sure this was the Trance Dance part.

The fire dance took place at the same time around a multi-leveled candelabra in the center of the group of chanting men. The ornately costumed dancers played out a story using the traditional Apsara movements. There were a couple of women, I think one being a princess of some sort, a couple of demon-monsters, and a king-prince-guy-dude (I don't know), and a child who I took for a fairy (I could be horribly wrong - I had no program to fill me in) In the end, it seemed to me that the bad guy won the epic battle and the monster got the princess. Sometime things are just as fun when you don't know what's going on.

People came out and put up two foot barricades, dumped a large pile of coconut husks in the middle of the floor. Surely they were soaked in some fuel since there was a great woooosh as they were set a flame. After a minute to let them cook a bit a man either riding a horse or dressed as a horse trotted into the pyre and in his bare feet and kicked the burning embers out from the center toward the crowd creating a fantastic shower of sparks everywhere. Those sparks must be a property of flaming coconut husks. He was followed by two men with squeegee/brooms who pushed the embers back in a central pile. This was repeated a few more times until the fire was out. I'd bet big money that was the fire dance part.

I walked out into a heavy tropical rain and while others had umbrellas or ponchos I just got soaked. It didn't matter to me since the only real difference is that when it's not raining I'm soaked in my own sweat. My laundry was done just before leaving Thailand and I have not changed into anything fresh thinking the is no reasons to drench my clean stuff. Completely soaked in the rain is a total improvement for me and anyone within a couple meter radius.

My evening was spent under my porch, enjoying the downpour, drinking a Bintang pilsner beer, and pretty much typing this shit out.

Location:Ubud Bali

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