The "kecak" is an ancient Balinese trance dance with choral music. This is the most famous trance choir dance of all. It was originally a sanghyang (literally meaning "spirit") trance dance performed to appease the gods in times of drought, epidemic, and other emergencies. It is performed after sunset in a temple courtyard by male dancers sitting in a wheel of concentric circles around a flickering light. The dancers sway back and forth, raising their fluttering arms and performing with remarkable precision a fast interlocking pattern of vocal sounds, shouts, grunts, and hisses. Straightforward, five-toned kecak melodies are very imposing and moving when sung by a surging unison mass male choir that is often 200 strong. Unison melody alternates with a virtuoso choral texture achieved through the technique of fast interlocking vocal insertions on syllables such as "cak." The addition into kecak of the ancient Indian Ramayana drama, performed by glamorously costumed actor/dancers encircled by a male choir, is probably fairly recent.
Other Styles in Indonesian Traditions