A must-see in Bali is a Balinese dance performance. I attended two while I was there. One at the Garuda Wisnu Cultural Park in South Kuta, which was traditional and had very elaborate costumes.

The other one I saw was by an all-woman troupe in Ubud.

I don’t know how to describe the music. It’s like nothing you’ve heard before in the West, but is similar to traditional music in other South East Asian countries. The orchestras are made up of xylophones, gongs, and flutes.

Unlike in some countries, where you have to seek out traditional music, I heard it frequently coming from temples, and even played by taxi drivers.

The dances are very regimented, and tell stories. There is always the same cast of characters, but the costumes are different among different troupes.

I saw dances where a Garuda, the birdlike national symbol of Indonesia, is battled, women made offerings of flowers at a temple, a barong dances with a monkey, and many more I did not understand. I wish I knew more about what I was seeing.

The striking thing about Balinese dance is that the dancers dance with their whole bodies. Every part of them is precisely posed: their toes, their fingers, their necks. Even their eyes. I didnt know it was possible to dance with your eyes before I saw Balinese dance.

I enjoy still photography, and trying to capture perfect moments. That’s difficult for dances, where the subjects don’t stop moving. Also, my camera at the time did not do video.

Now I have a new camera that takes video. Maybe I’ll try it the next time I go to a dance.

But for now, these are some of my best photos of Balinese dance.

 Bali-Kuta-Garuda-Wisnu-7058 Bali-Kuta-Garuda-Wisnu-7065 Bali-Kuta-Garuda-Wisnu-7097 Bali-Kuta-Garuda-Wisnu-7113 Bali-Ubud-7259 Bali-Ubud-7307
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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