When the “Magical” Dance Becomes Your True Love

Good Characters in the epic of Ramayana Ballet

Ramayana Ballet Performance

Having lived in Jogjakarta for sometime made me feel like I am Jogjakartanese whenever I go back there for a visit or tell the beauty of Jogja to people who have put Jogja on their travel list. Jogja may not be one of those places with jaw-drop views, yet still in my eyes Jogja offers different kind of beauty you may not find elsewhere.

If you think Jogja is only Prambanan and Borobudur temples then you might need to go back to Prambanan once again. Prambanan is not only a temple where you can study the past through its relief, but this is also where the Ramayana Ballet is performed every Tuesday and Wednesday night.

The moon was not full at that time. The weather was somehow a bit cool. Jogjakarta was still awake as it was just too early to sleep; it was 9 hours away to dawn. There were quite many people I saw with their cameras, often advanced ones preparing their cameras for the performance which was about to begin. It did not take hours to wait until Prambanan compound were loaded with enthusiastic spectators who were interested in watching the Ramayana Ballet. Ramayana Ballet is a Javanese dance performance inspired by the legend of Rama and Shinta.

FYI: Our culture is also influenced by Hinduism as Hindu was one of the beliefs which was once big here. The influence can be seen through some Hindu temples (quite different from Buddhist temples), Balinese people, Tenggeresse in Tengger Caldera, East Java, and many other places.

In my eyes, the performance is “magical” in a sense that I feel like seeing it again, and again, and I do not think I will get bored. It is absorbing as the dance is accompanied by a great Karawitan playing(karawitan – a musical performance with a set of Javanese musical instruments called gamelan)

Javanese Gamelan - the piece of music is called Karawitan

The Ramayana Balet performance in Prambanan compound is done either indoor or outdoor stage. What is so special about the outdoor performance is that you can see Prambanan temple as the background, you can feel the wind breeze, and you can see the sky. The outdoor performance is usually done during the full moon; it will add the beauty of the dance itself. You will feel like living in the old time of Java.

The story of Rama Shinta performed beautifully with the background of Prambanan Temple that is seen clearly as some lights are located near the temple.

I was with the dancers played giant characters

The Usher I mean is not entirely dressing the same way as they are in the picture, but similar- just to give you the idea of how the usher may look like

Speaking of the outdoor performance; entering the entrance , you will be welcomed by a friendly usher wearing a complete Javanese attire who will make sure that you find your seats. Some available seats are:

VIP seats ( sofa seats), and special ( stone with cushions seats). I’d say sitting on a stone with cushion seat is more comfortable than sitting on a sofa. Entering the Prambanan area, there is a box filled with booklets about Ramayana Story provided in 6 different languages such as; English, Indonesian, French, Deutsch, Dutch, Spanish and Italian. But, do not expect too much with the foreign languages as some languages are not grammatically correct.

Javanese Dance Performance in Ramayana Ballet Prambanan, Jogja

Taking pictures is allowed during the performance. Each camera is charged Rp. 2000. I guess this is okay as this is a part of a maintenance of the temple too. As you might know that the temple has been severly damaged because of the earthquake. I guess 2000 IDR means nothing compared to having this temple forever. So, I do not really complain too much about paying this and that.

After the performance, you are given 5 minutes to take some photos with the dancers.

There is even a ten-minute coffee break, then you can exchange your coupons with soft drinks depending on the price of the tickets you buy. Near the coffee break area, which is outdoor, you can enjoy the karawitan playing. You can enjoy your ten-minutes break ( sorry I forgot to take some photos) while listening karawitan.

Some people I met said that after having watched the performance, they are in love with Gamelan. Many of them decide to buy CDs of gamelan or Karawitan. If you happen to stay on Jalan Dagen, or Malioboro then, go to Malioboro Plaza in which Gamelan Cds are abundantly available there.

These are some of my suggestions if you want to go there to see Ramayana Ballet / after watching it;

1. Read the booklet before watching it. Even though it may not be grammatically correct, but the booklet helps you understand the story.

2. Take special seats is not a bad idea at all.

3. Find information about when and what time it is played. ( it is usually at 7:30 PM- Eastern time of Indonesia)

4. Arrive there 45 minutes before as you can see the preparation of Ramayana Ballet plus have dinner nearby.

5. It is more beautiful if you see the performance during the full moon.Sometime ago,this performance was ONLY done during the full moon, but now it has been done several times in a month.

6. The “best” time to watch the performance is during the full moon.

7. To make your memory of Jogja last, buy gamelan Cds.

Majapahit Empire

The performance is done in two separate places: Prambanan compound, and Purawisata.

Ticket Fare for Ramayana Ballet in Purawisata Yogyakarta: IDR 175,000

Facilities include:

* Dinner at Jimbaran Resto
* Enjoy gamelan performance while having dinner

* Visit to the backstage to see the preparation of the dancers if you come early
* Taking photograph is allowed during the performance
* Taking photograph with the dancers after the performance

Ticket Fare for Ramayana Ballet in Prambanan Temple Tourism Complex.

* Trimurti closed-stage
o Special: IDR 125,000
o Class 1: IDR 100,000
o Class 2: IDR 50,000
o Students: IDR 15,000 (by submitting proposal letter from school)

Ramayana open stage

* VIP: IDR 200,000
* Special: IDR 125,000
* Class 1: IDR 100,000
* Class 2: IDR 50,000
* Students: IDR 15,000 (by submitting proposal letter from school)

Great photos of the dance

My wish is that you have enjoyable time during your stay in Jogja.
We offer friendliness, and should you ever meet any uncomfortable culture shock, I do hope you consider it your life experience as a traveler who is willing to learn new culture. But, let me tell you one thing: We welcome you, and do our best to make you feel like home.


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3 responses to “When the “Magical” Dance Becomes Your True Love

  1. Pingback: Discarding Lu’s 16 June’s Thoughts « Lingua Franca·

  2. This is very interesting! Did you take the picture after the paragraph about VIP seats? I really like the movement in that one šŸ™‚

    This makes me REALLY want to visit Indonesia, now.

    • Thank you!
      Unfortunately, the photograph was not mine. It was taken somewhere on the net.I trust google, keywords :Ramayana Ballet Performance. When I found this picture, I forgot to include the link to the website, and it was hard to track the picture again(sigh). Other than that the others are mine.
      It’s a challenge to be able to take good shots during the performance, especially with a simple camera like mine.
      I want to go back to take great shots like the one whose flickr link I posted there.
      If you want to visit Jogja, August is the best month. Please do come, and experience the differences:-)
      Thank you Joshua

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