Prior to their contact with the outer world the people of the Indonesian archipelago had already developed their own styles of dancing, still somewhat preserved by those who resist outside influences and choose tribal life in the interior of Sumatra (example: Batak, Nias, Mentawai), of Kalimantan/Borneo (example: Dayak, Punan, Iban), of Java (example: Badui), of Sulawesi (example: Toraja, Minahasa), of the Moluccan Islands and of Papua (example: Dani, Amungme).
Dances in Indonesia are believed by many scholars to have had their beginning in rituals and religious worship. Such dances are usually based on rituals, like the war dances, the dance of witch doctors, and dance to call for rain or any agricultural related rituals such as Hudoq dance ritual of Dayak people. War dances such as cakalele of Maluku and kabasaran dance of Minahasa, North Sulawesi. Others are inspired by nature, such as the Tari Merak (Peafowl dance) of West Java. Ancient forms are usually characterised by repetitive movements like the Tor-Tor dance of the Batak people of (North Sumatra). The dancing also is meant to let the human’s inner spirit come out, and also to calm or appease the spirits. Some of the tribal dances involving trance mental condition which interpreted as channelling the spirits through the dancer’s body movements. Tari Sanghyang Dedari is a special dance of Bali, in which the dancers are pre-pubescent girls in trance, chasing away bad spirits. The dance of kuda lumping and keris dance also involve trance.