A trip to Bali isn’t complete without enjoying its cultural and traditional activities.
The island is known for special art performances, ceremonies, magical history, and many more. It is home to many different traditional arts and dances, all of which are popular with both locals and foreign tourists.
One of the most popular Bali dances, apart from Kecak, is the Barong dance. It features a battle between Barong and Rangda to represent the eternal battle between good and evil, and is often performed at ceremonies and festivals.
Keep reading to learn more about the history of Barong dance, and recommended places to watch it yourself!
What is Barong Dance?
The Barong Dance is a traditional Balinese ritual dance. It is a captivating performance that tells the story of good versus evil, with the good represented by the Barong, a mythical lion-like creature. It is said to bring peace and harmony to the village, often performed by two actors – one dressed as the Barong and the other as Rangda, a witch-like figure. The actors perform a battle between the two characters, with the Barong ultimately emerging victorious.
Barong Dance has a long history in Balinese culture, with some records of performances dating back to the 10th century. The Barong represents a magical spirit that protects the village from evil forces.
Barong performances are a popular tourist attraction in Bali, with many shows taking place around the island. As part of the performance, the Barong will often be sprinkled with holy water to ward off any evil spirits.
Fun fact: it is believed that the Barong Dance originated as a way to entertain the gods and bring them peace.
Barong Dance is a beautiful and captivating performance that is full of life, energy, and spirit. It is a unique part of Balinese culture that is sure to bring joy to anyone who watches it.
The History and Performance of the Barong Dance
Barong Dance is a traditional Balinese dance that is believed to have been performed since the 11th century.
The dance symbolizes the fight between good and evil forces, usually represented by Barong, a lion-like creature, and Rangda, a demon queen. It is a theatrical performance, that portrays the clash between the two forces, and is usually accompanied by a gamelan orchestra.
One of the most memorable and fun facts about Barong is that the performers wear large masks, which can weigh up to 8 kilograms! The masks are usually made of wood, and decorated with intricate designs. The dance itself is very energetic, and involves acrobatics and stunts.
A performance will begin with the Barong and Rangda entering the stage and engaging in a battle. The audience will be asked to participate by chanting and clapping their hands. This is meant to encourage the battling forces, and help them gain strength.
The end is very dramatic, with the Barong finally triumphing over Rangda. This is a symbol of good ultimately winning over evil. The performance usually concludes with a shower of flowers from the audience.
Barong dance is always highly entertaining and engaging. The movements are precise and graceful, accompanied by traditional music. The traditional costumes and masks of the dancers add to the drama of the performance, and create a vivid imagery.
The Barong dance is believed to bring good luck, and protect the village from misfortune. It is not always the same story, sometimes the Barong is not the good character in the story; sometimes the Rangda is portrayed as the hero.
Overall, Barong dance is a spectacular show that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Whether you are a tourist or a local, it is an amazing experience that will have you captivated until the very end.
Where to Watch a Barong Dance
Now that you’ve learned about the history and play-by-play of the Barong dance, it only makes sense to experience the show in person when you’re visiting Bali.
Barong dance is performed in many parts of the island. While it’s not difficult to find tourist areas that perform this dance, not every place has daily shows, and some might be too far from where you’re staying.
Here are some of the best places to watch a traditional Barong dance;
Batubulan is a renowned art village located in Sukawati, Gianyar. Strategically located on the main road from Denpasar to Ubud, getting to Batubulan Village requires a 30-minute drive from Ubud centre.
They perform the Barong dance every day starting at 9:30 am.
There are five stages where they usually perform the dance. Each stage has a unique Balinese architectural design which elevates the overall atmosphere of the performance. Tickets are sold on-site for Rp150,000, and online for Rp100,000.
Ubud Royal Palace
This is by far the most popular spot to watch Balinese dance shows in Ubud.
The Royal Palace performs different kinds of dance every evening, including Barong dance every Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 to 9 pm.
The ticket price is Rp100,000 per show, and can be bought on-site.
It’s best to come 30 minutes before the show starts, so you can get the best seat.
A good thing about this spot is that it has an indoor stage in the west of the Palace, for a dance performances on rainy days.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park
If you’re staying in the south of Bali, GWK Cultural Park is the best choice to watch Barong dance.
The stunning Barong dance is part of the park’s cultural performances called The Mythical Moves, which also includes Oleg Tamulilingan dance and Jauk Manis dance.
Performed in the Amphitheatre, the show begins at 3pm every day. It is free to watch the dance, but there is an entrance fee to the park.
You can easily buy a ticket online for Rp100,000 for adults and Rp80,000 for children.
Since GWK is a huge site, you might want to spare some time to explore everything the park has to offer, from the GWK Statue, parks, and typical photo spots.
ARMA Museum & Resort
Founded by Agung Rai, a tour guide turned art collector, The Agung Rai Museum of Art showcases paintings made by Balinese and other Indonesian artists, as well as Western artists.
As well as a gallery, ARMA also offers cultural workshops and Balinese dance performances, including Barong dance.
The dance is performed every Sunday at 7pm on an open stage by the best Balinese dance companies.
ARMA is located in the heart of Ubud, not too far from Ubud Monkey Forest.
A trip to Bali isn’t complete without watching a traditional Balinese dance.
Barong dance is the perfect combination of mesmerising moves, and traditional music.
Get lost in the amazing atmosphere of the performance, and learn a little bit more about Bali’s diverse culture.
Featured image: Barong Dance