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Ramayana Ballet: A Masterpiece of Dance

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Overview

The Ramayana ballet tells the story of a legendary epic, presented in a series of graceful dance movements accompanied by gamelan music – an orchestra of traditional Javanese instruments. For those who enjoy cultural displays, this is a splendid performance that is not to be missed. The ballet brings together different aspects of traditional Javanese culture with dance, drama, music and costume all on display. Performers do not speak during the dance. The only storyteller comes from the sinden, a female singer who describes the story through Javanese song.

The story of Ramayana tells the heroic tale of Prince Rama and his loyal wife Sita. It
is an epic story, a metaphor about the triumph of good over evil.

Sita is abducted by the giant Rahwana and carried to his palace at Alengka. In his search for his wife Sita, Rama receives assistance from the white monkey king, Hanuman, who burns Alengka Palace and restores princess Sita to her husband.   This is a tale that originates from India. The first reference to the story of Ramayana in South East Asia was in a sixth century inscription in Cambodia. Today the Ramayana story is performed in a variety of art forms throughout Indonesia.

The Ramayana has two endings, and these are played alternately on different occasions. In the first, princess Sita is saved and is happily restored to her husband, Rama. In the second version, - most probably the original one – Rama suspects Sita’s chastity when she returns. To prove that she has remained faithful to her husband, Sita asks to be burned alive. If she has lied, she will die, if not, she would remain unharmed. After being burnt, a living Sita emerged from the flames. Thus, it is a happy ending after all.   


There are two places in Yogya where the ballet is performed, at Purawisata and at the edge of Prambanan temple. In Purawisata, Yogya you can take in the performance while eating dinner. The ballet has been performed here for 25 years.

At Prambanan you can see the ballet at the foot of the magnificent temple, with the rising full moon as its backdrop.  Described as a ‘must see’ this is a beautiful performance that draws in dance, drama and music onto one stage. See the legend come to life in an evening performance with the sparkling Prambanan temple all lit up providing a spectacular backdrop. This is an enormous production with a cast of over 200 involving professional dancers to schoolchildren. As you sit under the stars, indulge your senses as you watch the graceful dancers in their incredibly bright and intricate costumes. There, you’ll be drawn in by the magic of this ballet.

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