During our Bali trip, we had the pleasure of watching the Barong and Keris Dance in Gianyar. Watching the Barong and Keris Dance in Gianyar was not on our itinerary, but our guide highly recommended it, so we went.
If you want to watch a cultural show in Bali, the Barong and Keris Dance should definitely be on your list. It’s about an hour and 30 minutes long. The production leaflet needs serious proofreading; the play is in Balinese, so you need it as a guide to know exactly what’s happening, but the play is relatively easy to follow if you pay attention.
Bali’s Barong and Keris Dance is comprised of five acts set to a musical overture. Characters move in harmony with the background music. The dancers’ movements are graceful and mesmerizing. The dance depicts the eternal fight between good and evil.
“Barong” is a mythological animal that represents good. He is considered a protector spirit of Balinese villages. He usually has two monkeys with him. The Barong can take various forms, including Barong Macan and Barong Bangkal, but in this dance, he is in the form of the Barong Keket/Ket, the holiest of Barongs. The mythology is that they wander from door to door to cleanse the territory of evil. The Barong Keket is a strange creature — half shaggy dog and half lion — that is played by two men: one as the head and forelegs and the other as the body and hindlegs.
The Keris dance is when the Rangda character, a witch, appears and casts black magic on some male dancers, who represent the King Airlangga’s soldiers, and orders them to commit suicide. In a trance, the men stab their chests with their own kris. Meanwhile, Barong and the priest character cast protective magic on these men, which makes them impenetrable to sharp objects.
The dance ends with the final battle between Barong and Rangda. Barong is victorious and Rangda runs away. Since evil has been defeated, celestial order is restored.
Schedule & Rates
The standard rate for Bali’s Barong and Keris Dance is 100.000 IDR, which is roughly ₱300.00. According to this website, these are the set schedules offered:
- Batubulan Village, Sukawati, Gianyar: Every day at 9:30 A.M.
- Puri Saren, Ubud, Gianyar: Every Friday at 6:30 P.M.
- Catur Eka Budi, Kesiman, Denpasar: Every day at 9:30 A.M.