I had the opportunity to watch the Balinese ladies apply their Balinese Dance Makeup when we were staying at the stunning Tugu Bali in Canggu. I don’t know about you, but I am amazed by the performances and how the Balinese dance depicts the culture of Bali. These Balinese dance performances are an excellent way to become immersed in local culture, and the privilege of seeing the dancers transform themselves was special.Gordon was not allowed in, and that is understandable. [clickToTweet tweet=”Watching the Balinese Dance Makeup was a girls bonding session” quote=”Watching the Balinese Dance Makeup was a girls bonding session” theme=”style3″].

This was not the first Balinese Dance we had seen, we had seen one in Ubud, but it was the first where I went behind the scenes to see the makeup being applied.

Different Balinese Dances

The Barong Dance

is the most performed dance in Bali. It tells the tale of magical protector of Balinese villages. As lord of the forest, he is the opponent of Rangda the witch, who rules over the spirits of darkness, in the never ending fight between good and evil.

Legong Dance

is the story originating from the history of East Java in the 12th and 13th centuries. A king finds the maiden Rangkesari lost in the forest. He takes her home and locks her in a house of stone. Rangkesari’s brother, the Prince of Daha, learns of her captivity and threatens war unless she is set free.

Kecak Dance

was originally a trance ritual accompanied by the male chorus. Kecak is a form of Balinese music drama, which originated in the 1930s and is performed primarily by men, at Uluwatu Temple. Read about this mesmerising dance Kecak Fire Dance, Uluwatu Temple, Bali


Becoming a Balinese Dancer

By day the dancers can be from any walk of life, by night, they are transformed into characters from the various Balinese myths and legends, and stories. Read what the dance is about before so that you can follow the performance.

To be a dancer requires a lot of training, and if you see their eyes, hands, and feet during a performance, and try and replicate these, you will find that it is a lot more rigorous than it appears. [clickToTweet tweet=”The Balinese dancers are graceful, elegant, and always in character,” quote=”The Balinese dancers are graceful, elegant, and always in character, even if I had just been chatting with them before.” theme=”style3″]

Many Balinese dancers are trained from the age of five, in the legends and the movements.

Balinese Dance Makeup –  Behind the Scenes


The makeup and costume tell us whether they are male or female, hero or villain, gods or not.

Applying the makeup is a communal activity and one where I was invited to watch. There was a lot of giggling, so some things are universal, but there was also a lot of skill involved in what they were doing.

All the ladies start with an entirely clean face and then they start to apply. It takes a lot of time, as the makeup is thick.

Foundation is important in Balinese Dance Makeup

A very thick foundation is used, and the dancers aim to be two shades lighter than their original skin tone.


The blush is applied liberally to the cheeks. Powder is used to set the foundation.

Eyeliner and Eyeshadow

The eyeshadow and eyeliner, make the eyes a lot bigger because this is central to the dance performance.
A liquid Black eyeliner is applied around the rims of the eyes after the eyeshadow has been applied. The eyebrows are shaped, usually drawn on higher than the dancer’s actual brows. The eyebrows are painted black also.


Red lipstick and lip liner is used.



The Third Eye

The final step is the dot between the eyebrows. This is the ‘third eye’ according to Hindu belief and gives the dancer a clearer view into the spiritual world.

This is a material called pamor which is a white clay powder. Pamor protects the dancer from black magic thrown at them by their enemies in the audience. The dancers I was watching applied these dots themselves, as part of a ritual prayer before going onstage.





And it is performance time.



A behind the scenes look at Balinese Dance Makeup was an amazing experience, interacting with the dancers as they transformed themselves into their characters. These women find it a privilege to share the Balinese culture with us. We found it a privilege to be a part of this.

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