A Careful List of Do’s and Don’ts for Dancers

These are an excerpt from the various opinions expressed in Narthaki discussion forum. I sort views/suggestions to promote interest in Classical Arts. Here are some specifics for Dancers/choreographers/Gurus…

I assure you that everyone, be it in the USA, Punjab or Australia, would be bored of a slow, badly rehearsed and plainly-choreographed (e.g without many karanas) “classical” performance by the dancers who do not have any of the essential qualities (e.g. Patra Prana Dasha Smrutaha). – Santosh,?

Maybe serious audience is scattered all around the world. Advice to the useless amateurish dancers posing as “professional”: don’t put off the rasikas with your poor shows! Dance in your bedroom! Don’t complain that nobody wants to watch you, and nobody wants to pay you. The dancer must be really outstanding if she expects someone to drive for 1 hour, buy a ticket, and sit through her 2 hours programme!In India, fewer rasikas attend live programmes because the traffic gets more and more difficult, the people have to stay till 8 pm at work, the children now have to attend their tuitions (7 days a week) and cannot come for the live programmes.

Close range? Most rasikas can hardly see even where the dancer’s legs are and where her hands are. At a festival in Chidambaram you have to watch the dancer 200 metres away, and at large auditoriums you watch the dancer 50 metres away.“- Janeni, India (hot one this is!)

“Audiences need variety. There is place for all kinds of dancers. Each dancer makes others happy and we all have a right to try. Payment or no payment.
….there are attempts to bring divinity alive through bharatanatyam where the dance is greater than the dancer… there is a meditative quality to the presentation and the choreography is truly inspired … The latter in my opinion is beautiful Bharatanatyam but to many – pretty boring. And yes, the audience for that is very few. It is a whole frame of mind and style of living of the patron of art in question. People like – in your face – art more and by showing them that, you can convert and get material success. But very soon, the technique becomes boring and what was once awesome is predictable. Poeple get bored of everything… and they stop paying.. So it is really upto each artist to create a following for herself… She or He should stretch their imagination, put themselves in the audiences shoes and come up with new things to keep”- Megha, USA

outstanding and popular name doesnt mean popular dancer. so, only people who watch can only decide whether the performer/artist is good or not when they watch- and thats the crux of the problem. I believe, dance is the interpretation of music and lyrics- their mood and meaning. so language should not be a barrier. infact to this point, even the mudras used in dance are quite uncomprehensible for a layman. thats when the dancer has to show her talent.i feel its like playing dumbcheredes. u know the story, but u should express it with such detail that ur audiance should understand it,without u even opening your mouth.
art knows no boundries,no barriers, no language.”- Mallika, Australia

Networking of artists and resource people. No one person can be complete. A good alliance between resource people and artists can help improve the show’s content and execution .“- Shyam Srinivasan, Indonesia

The sad truth is that a majority of the people would prefer a Bollywood number (or anything related to movies) than any classical dance or music. Watching an Indian movie is like watching TV – nothing is required from the audience, whereas classical music or dance, (when done well) are truly inspiring and transport the observer. Here in St.Louis, we had about 70 people show up for a concert by Shashank, whereas I myself heard of at least 5 couples who drove all the way to Chicago (300 miles) to attend some Bollywood night!”- Anu, USA

Actually, what is “anything classical”? i do not find 50 of the modern bharatanatyam to be “classical”. Really classical is the art that is 100% faithful to the ancient scriptures. everything else is bollywood. Indian classical arts are rooted in the hindu spirituality. if the hindu spirituality declines, the interest in the classical arts declines automatically too.

I am sure that if you had once watched a extraordinarily wonderful dancer, his death would have paralyzed your life. Otherwise, with all these mediocre fusions called “classical”, who cares?”- Natya,???

“…the people who are capable of appreciating Natya are rare at the end of Kali Yuga because the absolute majority (90%?) of the apparently human beings in our age are in human body for the first time, so how can you expect someone who was just a cat before to come and relish a Bharatanatyam recital without eating,drinking,talking and walking around during the best of performances?Thanks to such pseudo-dancers, 99% Indians now believe that classical dance is boring rubbish.“- H.Uma-???

“I think alot of westerns could be rasikas in a broader sense….I also honour the dancer and her experiments, in fact I saw similar done by a famous dancer with composer Bach and heard the explanation: Everything can be done in Bharata Natyam. So I guess this classical fusion migth be in a stage of development and improved choreography could give a more comforting result. On the other hand to me it is an experiment in sa-grama or sadhja yati, as mentioned in the shastra and since music is universal this is not ras bhasa and its within our taste if we like it or not. It could be argued equally that the beautiful indian dance performed to the out-of-tune indian scales is against aestethic values? I think we are trained to like and dislike certain things, but viewed on an absolute plane there are no such distinction ” – Raga,not from India

Keep dancing; all of you have your segments. Don’t worry about the lack of audience. We are all working on it. Improve and innovate but sensitively. Have honest feed backs. Peer networking can come in handy here. Gauge your audience cautiously. There are people who want to see a drama (abstract and realistic) and there are others who want to see the Brahma Himself. So you have a vast scope. Remember Art comes before the Artiste.

Teachers or Institutes:
Be patient
Motivate kids – have student concerts, but make them watch professionals too!
Expose them to allied arts and literature
Network with other schools, artistes, organizations: – more the mightier. Easier said than done
Stand by principles
Provide meaningful workshops to induct new rasikas
Send newsletters to students. Create a knowledge base .If you can’t make a good one, use the ones at Nathaki and other authentic sites (But cite the source). Once we have a rasika forum we can start making our own to include more art forms.

Performers and Teachers: Don’t be afraid to ask for your due payment. People may not respect what comes free. But also keep the art in mind and you are its ambassador.”- Sangeetha, Indonesia (yeah you guessed that right, it’s me!)

Ok, since you have all points of consideration under your belt… all the best dancers/teachers!!!


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