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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Must See in Ubud, Bali: Ramayana Ballet

Ubud Palace presents cultural performances every night. Every time I go to a foreign land and there's a chance to see traditional acts, I surely won't let it pass because I am a history and culture buff. The palace is just within walking distance from my home stay so it was very convenient for me. That was what kept me busy at night in Ubud. Watching these performances was definitely one of the highlights of my visit in Bali.

Ramayana Ballet

The show starts at 7:30 PM. I tried to be there at least 30 minutes earlier to get a good seat. It is being held at the palace's court yard. It serves as an open-air theater at night. It felt so marvelous to be watching here. The intricately constructed palace gate and the guardian statues serve as a perfect setting for the traditional dances.

everyone waiting for the start

A few minutes later, the gamelan orchestra performed the overture. Its tinkling sound started to float in the air. The chimes, the dramatic lighting and the smell of frangipani flowers, set the mood right. After the musical introduction, the dancers started to own the ground.

got me awe-stricken

Bali is known for several notable dances. One of them is the Ramayana Ballet. Indonesian dances are very dynamic and expressive. I mean very expressive. The body gestures, the finger twitching and the eye movements. Just wow.

 This dance depicts a story from one of the greatest Hindu epic Ramayana. It is about the journey of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in a jungle where they encountered Maricha, a demon from Lanka Kingdom who wants to abduct Princess Sita as ordered by his King Ravana.

Ravana and Maricha


King Ravana wants Sita to marry him no matter what.

Lakshmana and Sita

Other characters in the story are Jatayu and Hanuman. Jatayu is an enormous bird who tried to save Sita but was defeated.

Ravana - Jatayu - Hanuman

Another one is Hanuman, who arrived with his troupe. Rama asked for his help to save Sita and help her escape from palace.


Another character is Trijata, one of the demoness in Lanka who happens to be a niece of Ravana. She was tasked to keep an eye on Sita and convince her to marry the king.

Trijata and her maids consoling Sita

 Trijata did otherwise. She never persuaded her and even comforted her during her stay at the palace.

captive Sita

Of course, Rama and Hanuman succeeded in fighting Ravana.

Hanuman and Rama fighting Ravana

 Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were happily reunited at the end. And they lived happily ever after. ;)

the whole cast of Ramayana Ballet

The performance lasted an hour and a half. It was the first time I watched a traditional dance drama like that and I loved it!

Everything was mind blowing for me. The gamelan orchestra (I think it is really hard to get them all in sync), the identical make up (which made characters looked like each other), the flamboyant costumes and props (very ornate and creative) and the dance moves (with every part of the body moving including the eyes)! It takes a very long time to learn all of them for sure. Their dance is one of their greatest artistic expression. It also shows the richness of the Indonesian culture.

I went back for more the next night. For the other dances I've watched, please click here.

Ticket Price: IDR 80,000

"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen." ~Benjamin Disraeli

This is Part 4-1 of my Bali travel series

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