Kecak Fire Dance is the most iconic art Balinese performances, famous for its dominant use of human vocals in place of gamelan instruments to accompany the dance-drama at its core. Your visit to the island won’t be complete without seeing a show, and the best place to do so is at the cliff-top amphitheatre located just south of the Uluwatu Temple on Bali’s southern Bukit peninsula… and at sunset for added drama.
Usually, the Kecak Fire Dance show is included as part of the package if you booked a common tour to the temple, and which perfectly serves as a closing highlight to your day out in Bali’s south peninsula area. However, you can go just for the show and purchase tickets at the amphitheatre’s ticket booth up front. Tickets for walk-ins range between IDR 70,000 and 100,000 depending on low and peak season, and includes pamphlets containing the synopsis of the drama.
Good thing to note is that the whole Uluwatu site is home to a hoard of grey long-tailed macaques, which are known for being swift and cunning pickpockets. Therefore, go ‘low profile’ with no loose jewellery or clothing when visiting the temple or going on your way to the show, and particularly keep your camera in its bag until you enter the amphitheatre. This open area has tiered concrete seating surrounding its sunken centrepiece stage, and the ocean view beyond is breath-taking.
At around 18:00, sunset time, the Kecak Fire Dance show starts. The troupe of around 75 male dancers descend onto the stage with extended arms and shaking hands up in the air while chanting their fast-paced, ‘chak!’ choruses repetitively. The prelude opens the five episodes taken from the Ramayana epic, as dancers in elaborate costumes artistically re-enact the tale with slower or faster tempos provided by the troupe complementing a scene of romance or suspense.
The Kecak Fire Dance synopsis goes that Sri Rama, the prince of the Ayodya kingdom was sent into exile by his father King Dasaratha following an evil trick by his stepmother Kaikeyi. Deep in a monkey forest (which fits in perfectly with Uluwatu’s setting), Rama is accompanied by his wife Sita and loyal younger brother Laksamana. The evil Rahwana, who had a crush on Sita, knew of this, and set out to kidnap her. The rescuing effort by the two brothers ensues with help from the monkey king Hanoman and his monkey troops. Rahwana eventually subdued, the two lovers are finally reunited right after the setting sun. The fire torches in the stage’s centre flicker against the darkened sky and the echoing chants subside.