via Jakarta Post, 19 September 2019: Keeping sacred dances sacred in Bali.
At 63 years old, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati has dedicated his life to Balinese arts and culture. The prominent member of the Ubud royal family and the Bali deputy governor, popularly called Cok Ace, actively performs the sacred dances of Calonarang and Topeng Sidakarya in religious ceremonies at temples across Bali. For Cok Ace, dancing is not about getting applause from the audience, let alone money.
“I never think about how many people will watch me dancing. I never think whether people will applaud me or not. For me, it’s all about sincerity. A 100 percent offering to God,” he said.
Cok Ace, who is also the chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said he felt sad to see sacred dances being performed only for tourists. The dances are also often performed at tourism festivals, including to break Indonesian-held world records.
“Sacred dances should not be performed for commercial purposes. It’s a deviation,” he said.