Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan, Yogyakarta

When in Yogyakarta, miss out on Ramayana Ballet and you’ll be cursed with no toilet paper when you need it the most.

Seriously, it is a must-watch especially between May to October when the show is held at the open-air stage, with the beautiful Prambanan temples as a distinctive backdrop.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - backdrop
Backdrop for Ramayana Ballet from May to October, not toy models

We went during the rainy season so we caught it in the indoor theatre (Tri Murti). Even though we missed out on some elements that could not be performed in an enclosed area (i.e. real fire), it was no less remarkable.

A glorious performance with a full gamelan music orchestra, graceful and light-footed dancers, lighting and intricate costumes… this is Yogyakarta’s Ramayana Ballet.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - gamelan
Live gamelan orchestra

The story of great Indian Ramayana epic is engraved on the Prambanan temples. The Ramayana Ballet is based on the epic, lightly translated to embrace Javanese music, dance and culture.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - Rama Wijaya
Ohai Rama Wijaya

A king’s daughter, Shinta was betrothed to Rama Wijaya. Through deceit, she was kidnapped by Rawana who longed to possess her for his own. Rama Wijaya and his brother, Laksamana set off to rescue Shinta. Along the way, they met Hanuman; a white powerful monkey who agreed to help them. A battle ensued and in the end, Rama Wijaya was reunited with his wife.

Do pick up a leaflet (available in many languages) at the entrance. Read and understand the storyline, else you’d have no idea what is going on.

Be lost by the performance, not the story.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - monkeys
Monkeys fighting

The term ‘ballet’ may be confusing for some. It is not the ballet where you’d expect chiffon tutus, Tchaikovsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Rather, you’re watching a human interpretation of the ‘wayang kulit‘. Truly a masterpiece in its own right.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - garden scene
In the garden of Rawana

If I lavished too much superlatives on it, maybe it was well-deserved. I was mesmerised throughout the performance, captivated by the expressive dancers, movements and haunting music.

I can’t express how it felt to be surrounded by such animated grandeur and gracefulness. It is one of those things that you have to experience it for yourself.

For me, the only downside was Shinta burning herself to prove her ‘purity’. Rubbish thing to do. It is part of the original Ramayana epic, and is the fault of the times rather than the show.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - Laksmana
Rama’s brother helps to save the world

We went for the First Class seats for Rp 175,000 each (approx RM50 or US$15.50) which were decent seats. If you have the extra dosh, i do recommend that you go all out for the front row. It’s worth it!

The Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan runs for 2 hours with a short break in between, and is staged every other day. To find out the dates of the performance, check out their website: *click*

There’s another place that stages Ramayana Ballet (Purawisata Jogjakarta) but it probably feels less majestic than the one in Prambanan, mostly due to the latter’s proximity to the ancient temples.

Have you watched the Ramayana Ballet? What did you think? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

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