This is the story behind the Barong Dance:
The final fight between the Barong (good) and Rangda (evil) is preceded by a play called Calonarang. Calonarang was a legendary queen who was accused of practising black magic. According to some versions of the story, she killed her husband by pointing with the left hand at him, in others, he just plain deserted her. Anyhow, she becomes known as the Widow (Rangda) and turns into a terrible Leyal (witch-monster) that is finally killed by a saint who assumes the form of the Barong.
Every performance starts with a short prologue that features a scene with monkeys in a forest and has no connection to the rest of the story other than to show the good character of the Barong. After the prologue, two young girls perform a Legong, a very abstract and difficult dance. After this, the main story starts:
A young prince, Sadewa, is going to be sacrificed to a terrible witch monster, and two servants of the royal household are discussing opportunities to prevent this, when Kaleka, a student of the witch, enters the stage. The servants are deeply concerned about her appearance and send for the prime minister. The prime ministerarrives, followed by the queen herself. The queen is desperate about having to sacrifice her son, but Kaleka, the student of the witch casts a spell on her and the queen changes her mind, starts beating her son and orders the prime minister to lead Sadewa to the cemetary where the witch lives. At first, the prime minister refuses to do so, but the student of the witch casts a spell on him as well and Sadewa`s fate seems to be sealed.
The following scene finds the poor prince tied to a tree at the cemetary, awaiting his death at the hands of the witch. The god Shivahowever, has mercy on Sadewa, appears in the disguise of a priest (but flowers are thrown on the stage when he appears to indicate that he is in fact a god) and makes the prince immortal. When the student of the witch, who has followed him, notices this, she turns first into aboar, then into giant bird. Sadewa wins over both. But then the witch finally turns into Rangda, the evil of all creation. In order to fight her, Sadewa himself turns into the Barong (a kind of stylized lion) who represents the good powers. Rangda and the Barong fight, but as their powers are balanced, none of them can win.
The Barong now calls for his followers, the kris dancers, to assist him. The kris dancers attack Rangda with their magic knives (kris), but she casts a spell on them so that they fall into a trance and stab themselves with their knives instead of her. However, the Barong makes one final appearance and releases the kris dancers from her curse. In the final scene a priest pours holy water on the kris dancers and awakens them from their trance. (All pictures on this page have been taken at performances of the Batubulan Dance Company).