Protecting a Precious Cultural Treasure, Berko Dance
Nestled within Bali’s Jembrana Regency is the cherished Berko dance, a sacred art form that has woven itself into the region’s cultural heritage for generations. Sadly, this revered tradition now teeters on the edge of extinction, threatened by a scarcity of successors. In response to this looming crisis, the Jembrana Tourism and Culture Agency (Disparbud Jembrana) is embarking on an ambitious reconstruction project, fueled by an unwavering commitment to preserving and perpetuating this beloved dance.
Berko Dance: An Acknowledged Cultural Heritage
The Berko dance was officially honored as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in late 2022 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology (Kemendikbudristek). This recognition underscores the art’s cultural significance within Bali and Indonesia as a whole. Ironically, even as Berko’s cultural importance is celebrated, it grapples with a pressing crisis that threatens its existence.
The Impending Generational Crisis
While Berko dance now basks in legal recognition, it faces a generational crisis that could eclipse its rich history. Anak Agung Komang Sapta Negara, the Head of Jembrana Tourism and Culture Agency, is an outspoken advocate for preserving this cultural treasure. In a recent interview, he stressed the urgency of the situation, stating, “At present, its legality is already established, and that is crucial. We must ensure the survival of this traditional art. Therefore, we plan to reconstruct Berko, aiming to revive this endangered dance.”
Inclusivity in Succession
A key strategy for preserving the Berko dance tradition is to break free from lineage-based succession. Sapta Negara passionately emphasizes that the next generation of Berko dancers need not be restricted to the families or residents of the late Dadong Barak, the previous guardian of the art. Anyone with the talent, passion, and aptitude for Berko dance can step forward as a successor.
This inclusive approach ensures that Berko transcends the constraints of family lineage, becoming a living tradition open to all who wish to embrace it. Sapta Negara envisions a future where Berko is a shared cultural treasure nurturing by a diverse array of talented individuals.
Local Artistry and Expertise
Revitalizing Berko dance hinges on local art experts in Jembrana who are the custodians of this rich tradition, essential for its revival. Sapta Negara emphasizes their pivotal role in this endeavor, explaining, “We will utilize local art experts in Jembrana to reconstruct and train the younger generation, ensuring that Berko doesn’t become extinct.”
This collaborative effort within the local community not only safeguards Berko’s legacy but also empowers the next generation with the knowledge and skills needed to carry the tradition forward. The collective wisdom of local art experts, honed through years of dedication, serves as the bridge connecting past, present, and future.
Recognizing the importance of ensuring Berko dance’s longevity, Disparbud Jembrana is forging partnerships with various stakeholders. These collaborations extend beyond geographical boundaries and involve esteemed institutions like the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) Denpasar. By harnessing these institutions’ expertise and engaging local art experts, they hope to identify and nurture young talents capable of preserving and performing Berko.
Sapta Negara states, “In our younger generation, the interest seems to have waned. Therefore, our current task is to rekindle their enthusiasm.” This mission is a collective effort that unites the wider community in safeguarding their cultural heritage.
Seeking the Heirs of Dadong Barak
While the search for successors is extensive, the agency remains committed to Dadong Barak’s legacy, the last-known guardian of Berko dance. Sapta Negara reveals, “Certainly, there must be original successors or students of Dadong Barak, and we are still searching for them to collaborate with other art observers.”
The quest to find Dadong Barak’s heirs is a significant aspect of preserving Berko dance’s authenticity, ensuring that its roots remain firmly anchored in its historical lineage.
Berko Dance: From 1925 to the Present
The Berko dance’s story stretches back to 1925 when it first graced Jembrana’s cultural landscape. Its lineage safeguard by the indomitable Ni Ketut Nepa, affectionately known as Dadong Barak. Sadly, the fourth-generation successor to this illustrious tradition passed away in December 2022.
As we stand at this critical juncture, the destiny of Berko dance lies in the hands of a new generation, untethered by lineage but bound by passion and commitment. Disparbud Jembrana’s tireless efforts, in collaboration with local experts and institutions, aim to ensure that Berko dance thrives once more, transcending the boundaries of time and tradition. Their unwavering dedication embodies the spirit of cultural preservation, ensuring that the legacy of Berko dance endures for generations to come.