Bare breasted men sit in a circle around the flickering light of torch, raising their hands while reciting rhythmically “cak, cak, cak”. This is an ancient Balinese Sang Hyang trance dance in the form of a religious chant, ritual prayers destined for the spirits ancestors. No visitors to Bali should miss this unique performance which has over the years fascinate choreographers and filmmakers. It was Walter Spies the Dutch painter who in the early 1930’s revolutionized this ancient ritual chant to become the most famous dance in Bali. Together with Limbak and his village troupe of Bedulu they would incorporate other dance movements for the lead dancer eventually adding the Ramayana story line with the army of monkeys as its central theme.
From a ritual chorus to a dance drama re-imagined by Walter Spies and now the Javanese born choreographer Sardono will also revolutionize the traditional Kecak dance into another contemporary style.
The new contemporary version of Kecak created in 1974 tells the story of the battle between Sugriwa king of the monkeys and his brother Subali over the Goddess Tara.
I Ketut Rina the Balinese dancer from Teges Kanginan, studied under the guidance of Sardono from a very early age, and after his world travel with the dance group he came back to Bali and founded the Cak Rina Dance. Today his amazing Cak Rina dance can be seen twice a month during the new and full moon in Ubud.
Unlike the traditional Kecak dance when the dancers usually form a circle, the Cak Rina dancers are mostly free standing with quick wild movements.
Dancers holding torches are unique to this contemporary version of the Kecak.