The lifestyles of Balinese people is expressed in their dance. Not only do we learn about the Balinese religion from their dance creations but also we can come to understand the flow of cultural events and activities that belong to everyday life. We can discover Balinese attitudes, how they look at nature, and how they regard their fauna and flora. The very essence of the Balinese culture is dance and drama, which is performed during temple festivals and in ceremonies. The dances performed in hotels is a small fraction of what Balinese traditional dances has to offer.
Balinese dances goes as far back as Balinese written history with much of the heritage originating from Java. Ironically, as a result of the Islamisation of Java, the Javanese culture has disappeared but has still survived in Bali and has become part of classical Balinese culture. Balinese dance cannot be separated from religion. Even the dances for the tourists are preceded by many dancers praying at their family shrine for taksu (inspiration) from the gods.
Dance fulfils a number of specific functions: It may be a channel for visiting gods or demons, the dancers acting as a sort of living repository. It may be as a welcome for visiting gods. It may be entertainment for visiting gods.
The typical posture of Balinese dances has the legs half-bent, the torso shifted to one side with the elbow raised and lowered in a gesture that displays suppleness of the hands and fingers. The torso is shifted in symmetry with the arms. If the arms are to the right, the shifting is to the left and vice-versa.