Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Travel Guide
Legong Dance & Ramayana
Overview: When you’re in Ubud, you must check out these two performances: the Legong Dance & Ramayana and the Kecak Fire & Trance Dance. The Legong Dance & Ramayana is an epic battle of between a good prince and an evil king. Meanwhile, the Fire & Trance Dance incorporates the Kecak story of the Ramayana as well as a fire dance.
LEGONG DANCE & RAMAYANA
Ubud’s Legong Dance & Ramayana takes place in the Royal Palace’s inner courtyard. A large red carpet is placed at the foot of a decorated flight of stairs that lead to the front entrance, I believe, of the main pavilion of the Royal Palace. The performers enter from the doorway at the top of the stairs and make their way down to the red carpet the performances take place. Two rows of the “gamelan” orchestra of men, with sarongs around their waists and udengs (head cloths), sit on either side of a red carpet on the ground. The performance commences with a superbly synchronized instrumental, mixing metallic xylophones, metal pots or urns and bongos. The xylophone and metal urns are lightly struck with small hammer-like instruments. The men alternate turns on either side and finally merge their sounds.
First, Legong is a divine dance by pretty girls. The Legong “Jobog” Dance Story starts with a dance like you’ve never seen before. These girls (and guys in the show) have such incredible mastery of their fingers, toes and eyes. The beginning of the story itself is about two brothers, represented by the Legong, who were turned into monkeys after seeking a magic potion by the Princess Dewi Tara. The two girls in the performance danced in a state of “trance.” With their eyelids peeled back, the performers’ eyeballs darted back and forth on command. They curled and moved their feet and fingers in ways that seemed impossible. Their controlled symbolic gestures matched their gracefulness.
The Ramayana has several parts and there is a storyteller with a microphone in the background, loudly voicing the dialogue of the various characters. The story itself is pretty simple. It is based on the Ramayana epic about a princess, Sita, and her husband, Prince Rama and Laksamana, Princess Sita’s brother. The three enter a forest but King Rahwana of the Kingdom of Ayodya secretly eyes Princess Sita and desires her. The king and an evil wizard, Maricha of Alengka Kingdom, conspire a way to capture Princess Sita, whom King Rahwana will later try to force into marriage. Maricha disguises himself as a golden deer and eventually lures Rama and Laksamana, leaving Princess Sita alone. King Rahwana disguises himself and lures Princess Sita out of a protective magic circle made by Laksamana. King Rahwana captures finally captures the princess and takes her back to his castle.
Rama’s friends appear to help Rama and Laksamana rescue the princess. First, Jatayu, a giant bird, goes after Princess Sita but gets killed. Then a monkey warrior, Hanuman, appears and gives the princess a message – a ring on behalf of Prince Rama. (In the epic, the story really centers on the monkey warrior, Hanumen, and his saving efforts.) Finally in the end, Rama and Hanuman attack King Rahwana and eventually put an end to the king and rescue Princess Sita.
Location: The Royal Palace (Sareng Agung), Ubud Water Palace (Puri Taman Saraswati), which is next to the Royal Palace. The Ubud Water Palace has the The Barong & Keris Dance.
Royal Palace: Tuesdays at 7:30pm
Ubud Water Palace: Thursdays at 7:30pm