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Kecak

From Academic Kids

Kecak (pronounced: "KEH-chahk", alternate spellings: Ketjak and Ketjack), a form of Balinese music drama, originated in the 1930s and is performed primarily by men. Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of 100 or more performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting "cak", and throwing up their arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana where monkeys help Prince Rama fight the evil King Rvana. However, Kecak has roots in sanghjang a trance inducing exorcism dance.

In the 1930's Wayan Limbak worked with German painter Walter Spies to create the Kecak from movements and themes in the traditional sanghjang exorcism ritual and the portions of the Ramayana. This collaboration between artists worked to create a dance that was both authentic to Balinese traditions but also palatable to Western tourist's narrow tastes at the time. Wayan Limbak popularized the dance by traveling throughout the world with Balinese performance groups. These travels have helped to make the Kecak famous throughout the world.

Video of a Kecak performance is prominently featured in the 1992 film Baraka. Several audio recordings are commercially available.

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