The roots of Balinese dance are trance ritual and the Javanese theatrical forms known as Wayang. Various performances take place at religious ceremonies, often late at night and several hours long. Shorter versions are put on for visitors in more convenient circumstances. In Lombok, the dances of the Sasak are ritual performances, often involving men in competition or combat. Islam has favored literary rather than performing arts, one reason why dance is less common in Lombok than in Bali.
Various form of dance and drama can be seen at the annual Bali Arts Festival. Some tell story; some are non-representational. New genres such as Sendratari often contain elements of older traditions.
Ritual and Trance
Ritual-based performances range from dance performed for temple deities to complex dramas. They often contain elements of trance. Even trance dance for visitors required ritual offerings.
Mask and Puppet Theater
Bali evolved its own style of the Javanese Wayang Kulit puppet theater and Wayang Wong mask dance drama. Both are vehicle for the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. In topeng the performer changes masks and costumes to show different characters.
Wayang Kulit ( shadow puppet theater ) uses flat leather puppets which cast shadows on a screen. The puppet master manipulates the puppets with sticks. Wayang kulit characters are distinguished by headdress and speech. Topeng dance recount genealogical histories of dynasties through a series of masks. Players may be a troupe of three or more, or may perform solo.
Puspawresti is a modern creation inspired by Rejang ( performed by females, usually either young or past child-bearing age ). A dance addressed to the gods.
Sendratari was devised in 1960s an art form without ritual function.
Arja is a dance opera in which choreography, music, costume and singing styles are strictly defined for twelve core characters roles.
In Lombok, the performing arts reflect both indigenous Sasak rites and Balinese traditions. Dances in Lombok are very often accompanied by drums; they often consist of a sequences of energetic movements alternating with slower actions and graceful poses. Peresehan, a dance which often performed for festivals, is the ritual enactment of a duel between two Sasak warriors.