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Kecak (pronounced [ˈketʃaʔ], alternate spellings: Ketjak and Ketjack) is a form of Balinese dance and music drama that developed in the 1930s in Bali. It is performed primarily by men, although as of 2006, a few women's kecak groups exist.[1]

Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of 150 or more performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting "cak" and throwing up their arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana. The monkey-like Vanara helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. Kecak has roots in sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.[2]

History[edit]

Kecak was originally a trance ritual accompanied by male chorus. In the 1930s, Walter Spies, a German painter and musician, became deeply interested in the ritual while living in Bali. He adapted it as a drama, based on the Hindu Ramayana and including dance, intended for performance before Western tourist audiences.

This is an example of what James Clifford describes as part of the "modern art-culture system"[3] in which, "the West or the central power adopts, transforms, and consumes non-Western or peripheral cultural elements, while making 'art,' which was once embedded in the culture as a whole, into a separate entity."[4] Spies worked with Wayan Limbak, who popularized the dance by arranging for performances by Balinese groups touring internationally. These tours have helped make the Kecak internationally known.

A Kecak dance being performed at Uluwatu, in Bali
Music of Indonesia
Traditional indonesian instruments04.jpg
Kempul gongs from Java
Genres
Specific forms
Regional music
A Kecak dance being performed at Kolese Kanisius, Jakarta

I Wayan Dibia, a performer, choreographer, and scholar, suggests, by contrast, that the Balinese were already developing this form when Spies arrived on the island.[5] For example, during the 1920s, the well-known dancer I Limbak had incorporated Baris movements into the cak leader role. "Spies liked this innovation," and he suggested that Limbak "devise a spectacle based on the Ramayana," accompanied by cak chorus rather than gamelan, as would have been usual.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

  • A kecak chant can be heard in Federico Fellini's film Satyricon (1969).
  • The 1971 version of Kenneth Anger's Rabbit's Moon incorporates Kecak into the soundtrack.
  • The soundtrack to the Coen Brothers' 1984 debut film Blood Simple includes a track entitled "Monkey Chant" which is based on kecak.
  • Dagger of Kamui (Kamui no Ken) (1985), an anime film, incorporates kecak in its score, often in action scenes involving shinobi.
  • Kecak chanting is incorporated into the soundtrack for the Japanese animated film Akira (1988), which also features the Indonesian gamelan.
  • Kecak is heard in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, during fantasy sequences taking place in the heroine's paracosm.
  • Footage of a kecak performance is featured in Ron Fricke's film Baraka (1992).
  • A Kecak-style dance and chant can be seen in the fantasy portion of Tarsem Singh's film The Fall (2006).
  • John Adams' opera, A Flowering Tree (2006), features Kumudha and the beggar minstrels in Act II, which are based on the Kecak. (per Cincinnati Opera pre-performance interview with the composer, 30 June 2011.)
  • A sample of Kecak chanting is in "The Wind Chimes," from Mike Oldfield's 1987 album Islands.
  • The San Francisco art rock band Oxbow's songs "Daughter" and "Daughter Bent & Floating" from their 1991 album King of the Jews, incorporates Kecak-inspired polyrhythmic chanting and clapping.
  • Mike Patton performs a Kecak-like chant in the song "Goodbye Sober Day" on the 1999 Mr. Bungle album California.
  • A sample of Kecak chanting can be heard in the song "Soldier of Fortune" from Manhattan Transfer's album Bodies and Souls.
  • A sample of Kecak chanting can be heard in the Devo song "Jocko Homo".
  • A sample of Kecak chanting can be heard in the Nurse With Wound track "I Am Blind" from the album Homotopy to Marie.
  • A sample of Kecak chanting can be heard in the SNK Neo Geo arcade video game, "The King of Fighters '97" when the gameplay shows Bali arena scene.
  • David Attenborough's 1969 BBC documentary, The Miracle of Bali, on the arts in Bali, featured the kecak in the 1st and 3rd episodes.
  • Ketjak is a book-length poem by Ron Silliman published in 1978 and reprinted in The Age of Huts (2007), in which the author gives the title "Ketjak" to a vast ongoing cycle of works which includes Tjanting (1980) and The Alphabet (2008).

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kecak from Bali. Produced by David Lewiston, 1990. One compact disc (duration 44:53) with notes and libretto by Fred B. Eiseman and David Lewiston.[6]
  • I Wayan Dibia, Kecak: the vocal chant of Bali. Denpasar: Hartanto Art Books, 1996. vi + 83pp. ISBN 979-95045-4-6.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ "Cultural Liberty Under Spotlight at Women Playwrights", Jakarta Post, 3 December 2006, accessed 13 August 2010
  2. ^ a b Michel Picard. "'Cultural Tourism' in Bali: Cultural Performances as Tourist Attraction", Indonesia, Vol. 49, (Apr., 1990), pp. 37–74. Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University
  3. ^ James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 223. Cited in Yamashita (1999), p.178.
  4. ^ Shinji Yamashita. "Review: Michel Picard, Bali: Cultural Tourism and Touristic Culture", Indonesia, Vol. 67, (Apr., 1999), pp. 177–182. Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University.
  5. ^ David W. Hughes, "Review: Kecak: The Vocal Chant of Bali, by I Wayan Dibia", British Journal of Ethnomusicology, Vol. 6, (1997), pp. 195–195. British Forum for Ethnomusicology.
  6. ^ Review: [untitled]. Author(s): David Harnish. Reviewed work(s): Kecak from Bali by David Lewiston.Ethnomusicology, Vol. 35, No. 2, (Spring – Summer, 1991), pp. 302–304. Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of Society for Ethnomusicology

External links[edit]

Listening[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kecak — Please support Wikipedia.
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46 news items

 
Huffington Post
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:26:15 -0700

The temple perches 70 meters above a sheer cliff that drops straight into the breaking waves of the iconic surf spot. The temple at Uluwatu hosts Bali's most spectacular views at sunset, as well as several ceremonies like the Kecak Dance (monkey dance) ...
 
The Epoch Times
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 23:25:51 -0700

The cliff, the Kecak dance the sunset – a magnificent way to spend a couple of hours in Bali. When visiting Bali's temples, moderation is the key. Visiting 3 temples a day would be more than enough and seeing more will just make you tired. Before ...

Bali Discovery

Bali Discovery
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 01:48:45 -0700

Two leading U.S. hotels have established programs with two tourism-training institutes in Bali to recruit students for one-year training programs to provide international experience that will assist aspiring hoteliers in their career paths to senior ...

Washington Post (blog)

Washington Post (blog)
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:00:00 -0700

Rhythmic vocalese, some of it derived from Bali's kecak (the a cappella “monkey chant”), also is part of the intricate fabric. The overall effect is cyclical and trance inducing, yet punctuated by noisy outbursts and speedy guitar solos. Now a middle ...

Inquirer.net

Inquirer.net
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 09:12:57 -0700

We saw the Kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple and Garuda Wisnu Ken Sana Temple. After four days, we moved to Villa de Suma in Seminyak, which has a four-bedroom villa. It was an eating and shopping adventure. We had a great time at the Waterbom park.

Wake, Wind and Surf

Wake, Wind and Surf
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 19:00:29 -0700

There were Rip Curl product, and sponsors giveaways during the afternoon, as well as the presentation of the artist who made artwork for this year's event, and as always the amazing traditional Balinese Kecak dance performance wowed both the audience ...

Detikcom

Detikcom
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 03:41:15 -0700

Turut serta dalam acara tersebut, Bupati Banyuwangi Abdullah Azwar Anas menunggang kuda kecak mengiringi barong melakukan ritual. "Ini kesenian paling tua di Kemiren, yang dipercaya bisa mengusir penyakit dan bencana di desa ini," kata Serad (72), ...
 
LETA (Paziņojums presei)
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:18:45 -0700

Olimpiādes dalībnieki ne tikai piedalījās sacensībās, bet arī iepazinās ar Bali tradicionālo kultūru un dabu - apmeklēja 11.gadsimta Uluvatu templi, kur redzēja tradicionālo kečak (Kecak) deju, un Bali Safari dabas parku. Šogad komandai bija arī savs ...
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