Baris dancer, Ubud, Bali

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Baris is a traditional war dance of Bali, accompanied by gamelan, in which a solo dancer depicts the feelings of a young warrior prior to battle.  The word “Baris” literally means line or file, referring to the line of soldiers who served the kings of Bali.

Originally the dance was performed as a religious ritual to dedicate warriors and their weapons during a temple feast. The dancer may bear a kris, a spear, a bow, or other weapons, depending on the variant performed.

At first, as he takes the stage, the dancer’s movements are studied and careful, as if he were seeking out foes in an unfamiliar place. When he reaches the middle of the stage, hesitation gives way to self-assurance. He rises on his toes to his full stature, his body motionless with quivering limbs, he whirls on one leg, his feet tread the ground to the tumult of the gamelan, and his face renders the storm of passions of a quick-tempered warrior.

Kebiar dancer, Ubud, Bali
Maiko in Kyoto, Japan