At the beginning of Bali dance development it was a large part dedicated to the need of rituals. It was probably the practice of religion in Bali put much more emphasizes on the ritual than any other aspect of Balinese religious life.
See from history of Bali dances have been practiced in the year of 978 Caka or 1056 AD and was said a mask dance. Mask dance is one of popular dance in Bali, both for Bali rituals and pure amusements. In the course of history it seemed that having the same experience with other arts of Bali, introduced various changes and re-creation for various purposes.
If we see the development of temple construction in Bali it was said that during 16th century was the most fastest and enthusiastic era of temple construction on all over Bali. During that time it was said that a saint called Dang Hyang Dwijendra initiated various construction of temples starting from West Bali such as Rambut Siwi Temple, South Central Bali such as Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Kentel Gumi temple, and others, East Bali area such as Silayukti temple, and even up to Lombok island crossing Bali strait. This era might preceded by the thought that after the birth of the Trinity concept in Bali Hindu, a thought of simplifying the various religious sects in Bali, even added with various new bigger temples. This situation indeed add the complexity of Bali Hindu which was before the after simplified from 9 sects into just 3 main orientation of Trinity. It was most probably the thought of Trinity that inspired the Tri-Kahyangan (Three-temples) exist in every Bali village (Bali = Desa). When a settlement of a group of Balinese has been appointed their status as a level of Desa or Banjar, then the 3 temples must be exist. In Fact all Desa in Bali as one level higher settlement status compared to Banjar (Banjar as the smaller unit of settlement in Bali), has more than 3 big temples. Even a Desa can have 9 and more big temples, and every family in the Banjar or Desa has another family temple. Why we relate Bali dance with the situation of Bali temple? This is because the existence of Bali dance has always been associated with the temple ceremonies. It is like an obligation to all Desa in Bali to maintain at least 2 types of dances those are Pendet dance and Rejang dance. These 2 Bali dances are probably the oldest religious dances in Bali.
The myths about Rejang dances in Bali which is associated with the existence of Demon living in the cave and always steel the last row of he Rejang dancer. This story of demon in Bali was so strong in the past that the demon was really existed. Rejang dancer is consist of girls and Pendet is consists of youths. The basic meaning of this dance for Bali ritual is as welcome greeting to the gods and goddesses during the peak of religious ceremony. Later when tourist visiting Bali these dance especially Rejang dance which is known also as “Penyembrama dance” is performed also as welcome dance for tourists.
Related dance to Bali religious rituals are many types. Bali dances having relation only for rituals are Rejang dance, Pendet dance, Sanghyang dance, Baris dance Topeng dance and Wayang puppet show. Some of these Bali dances have developed also as amusement for Balinese such as Topeng and Wayang puppet. Both topeng and Wayang are played with ethical messages with jokes is preponderant. Wayang puppet dance is performed overnight, sometimes from 9 pm up to 04.00 the next morning without stop. Wayang puppet dance is played only by one person called “Dalang” The Dalang of Bali can imitate to express voice of various figures both male and female. There are some differences between Dalang of Bali and Dalang of Java. In this occasion we will not take into account this specific character of Dalang in Bali and Dalang in Java, and hope will discuss this at other page.
Bali dances have more amusement aspects are many types of dances and dramas which function is more visible as an amusement compared to religious aspect, although it looks that the tools, dress, and player must got ritual treatments before dancing or during appointment as dancer. This is the unique aspect of Balinese life that any kind of activity in Bali is always taken as a religious blessing and in turn is to be treated with religious blessing also. Some of those dances can be cited here are known Bali wide and exist also only at certain place in Bali. Topeng dance for Balinese is both religious and amusement. Janger dance is the symbol of Bali girls and Bali youths starting to get acquainted to each other. Legong dance, at the beginning was a pure amusement performed in the Bali palaces. The king invited girls to dance during the guests or special occasion to dance within the palace that is why this dance is also called Legong Keraton. B Palace for Bali means Keraton. Legong dance symbolizing the women beauty in contrast to Baris dance or Jauk dance is the symbol of masculinity. Later in Bali various newly created dances and drama were presented to the stage. It was not only in the field of dances, but traditional theatre also developed. To mention a few of them such as Kebyar dance of the famous Mario dancer, Kecak dance and drama created by Balinese artist with Western artist in 1930 got the inspiration of North Bali tradition of men chatting drinking while singing outside the house called ” Magenjekan” Bali traditional theatre has also developed and surpassing the popularity of traditional drama such as Arja, Janger, and Kecak. This new drama is called Bali Traditional Drama. The theme of this drama is current social life, but still bringing the traditional Bali aspect such as dress,
It is a great thanks to the great artists of Bali dances in the past, since Bali has been known world wide due to also the unique dance and music. Even various groups of Bali dance associations have been invited by associations, educations, and entertainment all over the world to join the theatres or for special occasions. The government and private sectors of Indonesia have been using Bali dance and part of their promotional travel to many countries. These events have also raised the popularity of Bali dances and Bali.
Dance and drama have historically played and important role in Balinese society. Trough this medium, people learned about the tales of the Ramayana, Mahabarata and other epic stories from Balinese history. The following are brief descriptions of some of the more well-known dance-dramas that can be seen at regular performances, throughout Bali