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Jakarta Post

Bali deeply mourns loss of great maestro Wayan Beratha

The Jakarta Post
  ●   Mon, May 12, 2014

Last Saturday morning, the Balinese art world was cast into mourning for one of its greatest artists, I Wayan Beratha, who passed away after losing his battle with Parkinson'€™s disease.

He died while undergoing intensive treatment at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar, leaving behind a precious legacy for the Balinese art world.

'€œMy father had suffered from Parkinson'€™s disease since October last year,'€ said Ni Luh Sutjiati Beratha, the daughter of the dance master.

Sutjiati, professor of literature at Udayana University, said the disease had robbed the dance master of the physical ability to move his hands and legs.

Born on Feb. 14, 1926, Beratha dedicated his life to the development of Balinese traditional dance and music. He had produced 20 musical compositions and choreographed dances such as the Ramayana dance drama in 1965, Panyembrahma dance in 1971 and Manukrawa dance.

Beratha also created other masterpieces, such the Yudapati dance (1958), the musical composition Swabhana Paksa (1959), dance-drama Jayaprana (1961), Tabuh Gesuri (1964), dance-drama Maya Denawa (1966) and the musical composition Palgunawarsa (1968).

He created the Tabuh Gesuri while performing in New York, one of his many performances overseas, while the musical composition Palgunawarsa received the highest appreciation at the Bali Gong Kebyar Festival in 1968. His famous Yudapati dance depicts the characteristics of a hero; bravery, loyalty, helpfulness, sacrifice and prioritizing the interests of the common people.

Beratha had also contributed to rearranging the popular pendet dance in 1962, with the late maestro Wayan Rindi, who created the dance in the 1950s. At that time, as requested by then-president Sukarno, Beratha prepared the mass pendet performance of thousands of Balinese dancers for the opening of the 4th Asian Games in Jakarta.

Beratha also traveled around Indonesia, and the world, to perform. He visited many countries, including the US, China, Thailand, India, Germany, Italy and Japan.

As a maestro, Beratha received numerous awards for his dedication and extraordinary achievements in developing and preserving traditional Balinese arts. All of these awards are on display at his home in Banjar Abian Kapas Kaja in Denpasar.

Among the awards was the Dharma Kusuma from the Bali governor, as well from the Indonesian president.

In 2012, Beratha was awarded the inaugural title of Empu Seni Karawitan (master of the art of traditional music) by the Indonesia Arts Institute (ISI) in Denpasar for his lifetime achievements and dedication to preserving traditional Balinese music.

'€œWe have lost the maestro,'€ said Nyoman Suarsa, popularly known as Yan Pung, a Balinese dancer who learned to dance from Beratha. Yan Pung said that Beratha was a multi-talented artist, a music composer who could also create many dances.

Beratha, who dropped out of school as a fifth-grader in the sekolah rakyat, the Dutch colonial equivalent of elementary school, was known for his consistent efforts in the regeneration of Balinese arts through the development of numerous studios and the establishment of the Sekolah Menengah Kerawitan Indonesia (SMKI '€” traditional music school), the Akademi Seni Tari Indonesia (ASTI '€” dance academy) and ISI. He was also among the founding fathers of the Balinese cultural board, Listibya, in 1967.

In appreciation of Beratha'€™s skills, the family plans to establish a museum in their home showing Beratha'€™s art masterpieces and many achievements.

The Balinese art community is now waiting for Beratha'€™s cremation on May 19 in Sumerta village setra (cemetery).

Beratha is survived by four children and 13 grandchildren, but will always be missed by thousands of people and has left a deep hole in the Balinese world.

Goodbye master '€” rest in peace.