An anonymous letter to young dancers and their parents!!!

Here is a comment from a fictitious name(INDIAN BRIDE) and from an equally fictitious email id, that I publish, because this is a view point that young dancers( issue not strictly restricted to young artistes alone) and their parents should be aware of/ or consider :-

“Hi Sangeeta

I am a Bharatanatyam student of the yester years brought up in a upper middle class family in Madras. I wasn’t a bad student, went to one of the best Gurus, danced in the group productions of the institute. We didn’t have the money, connections or a good marketing plan that are warranted to become a professional dancer. Even the Rs 2500 or 5000 that we needed to put in to pay the orchestra and organizer of the dance festivals wasn’t a sum we could come up with very often. I had siblings who needed to be taken care of too. As most middle class girls were expected to be, I was a reasonably good student and got a Masters degree. I am not sure if it was to ensure future financial security or to obtain a good “Varan” ( prospective husband). But I continued to harbour this unreasonable belief that I would make it.

Then I got a great hubby from the developed world. I was so happy. It wasn’t easy to find a foreign educated husband who earned well, had his own house and great in laws. They all loved the fact that I looked beautiful and danced well. I went away in all pride bearing dreams to become a “somebody” in the golden land. I don’t exactly mean being a dancer/teacher but even land up with a 9-5 office job. After the initial honeymoon period, the grave reality of the situation began to set in.

The long nails that I so lovingly painted were now broken from all the housework. Then it was 2 pregnancies and child births with minimal assistance. Mothering, diapering etc and before I knew 7 years were done. My kids are young adolescents but now I am constantly behind them to pursue their dreams, chauffeuring them to their classes, being there for whomsoever in the family back home or here needs me. Sometimes when I look at my girls I wonder if all they will lose their dreams like I did.

I just want to let all the young girls and their parents know that if they are really serious about their career as a dancer(or anything at all), then they should chart out their plan much more seriously. To expect compromises only from women somehow seems natural, taken for granted, but, of course, is highly biased. While family circumstances may force our hands, qualified women should never, never waste their talent. The ability of women to multitask is just amazing. Men can, but between work and watching TV or browsing the net etc. Women can multitask doing real tasks – rearing children, running the home, working – with impossible ease.

But all said and done to really believe in your dreams and keep at it is HARD”

Concerned Parent

Dear Indian Bride,

Thanks for sharing your views here. I really appreciate the concern and goodwill behind this gesture.

Best wishes,

Sangeetha

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46 responses to “An anonymous letter to young dancers and their parents!!!

  1. Sangeetha, this is indeed very touching. But all I have to say is our life really changes if we change the way we think. I guess success embraces those who have struggled the least, but knew,loved and believed in what they did.

  2. Hi, I recently happened to view this blog spot, while I was surfing the net. I totally accept the above post, and I humbly request the readers of this blog spot to view my above blog spot where I have shared my feelings about the same. Its very true that unless we are ready to shell out money heavily we cannot survive in the arena, even if you are talented. I share this from my personal experience. Either you should be ready to spend or you must be the offspring of an already established artiste so that you get a platform ready.

  3. I am sorry, but why she did have kids then ?
    I am married, but didn´t want to have kids so that I can keep my dream of keep dancing alive. some people can do both but it´s very hard.

  4. This letter is so touching because it’s so candid. Almost sixty years after Betty Friedan wrote about the Feminine Mystique it still keeps so many women trapped and afraid to say that a lovely husband, adorable children and a beautiful home that they keep improving on every day is not all a woman needs for fulfillment. I really appreciate Indian Bride’s courage in saying the things she has said.

  5. When people are about 18, their soul’s dreams shine forth powerfully, and it gives them vitality and happiness. As they grow older, they trade their soul’s dreams for more mundane merchandise, the things that offer little joy to their soul. Gradually, the lustre in their eyes is getting dimmer. Their souls can no longer tolerate these people’s betrayal, so eventually their bodies die, and before dying, these people regret the choices they made in their life. They are to be re-born to a dull life again.

    I am sure that like most middle class girls, the Indian Bride neglected her dance classes for her useless Masters degree. Instead of taking the pain of gathering a free orchestra out of some young musicians (who do not charge the dancers anything!), and instead of giving performances at the venues where dancers are not charged, the Indian Bride, despite her Masters degree, she was silly enough to waste her money. Dance career is not necessarily supposed to require a large investment.

    Alarmel Valli and Urmila Sathyanarayanan have demonstrated that a family life and children are not supposed to make you lose your dreams and your dancing career.

  6. Varsha, I think you have not actually been in that place. Its easier said than done. The so called free progs and efforts often get u nowhere. but luck certainly matters… one odd reporter at a program can bring your name to notice and change everything for you! But one thing I will say, – dear indian Bride…. These things have less to do with effort and more to do with fate. Whichever choice we make, the masters degree + family life/ the dancing, we are bound to have one disappointment or the other. The attitude matters. I know people who are amazing artistes and have been singing for years, never give up, and yet are almost unknown to the outside world. Try looking at what you DO have. sometimes, what we want isn’t always the best for us.. Sounds too philosophical? maybe. but its true!

  7. Dear all and specially the Indian Bride… well i can totally emphatize with what happened with in terms of your career choice or should i say in terms of your passion for life.. but you know someimes its a ll worth it. You may have become a great dancer in due course of time and earned lots of money butmight have later ended with a man who is comletely non understanding and unrespectful towards you. This might leave u wth lot of monetry wealt but not sanity……wht i can guest after reading your sequence of events is that you are not regreting to get married or having children but to have done it at the cost of ur passion-dance!. well the simple thing is that things done and words said can not be taken back. And its nvr too late. Now that u are well settled and offcourse by now u wud have stuck that understanding cord with ur husband and childern, stand for urself now ! teach dance and make people perform if not perform urself on stage.

    Dont sympatise with urself coz u havnt taken any decision (u have a family which u care abt and which cares abt u), but jst not taken the decision wich u thought u will take. So gear up lady !!! dance away the worries and bring back your love of dance with a beat !!
    all the best

  8. I wanted to ask Sudha a question.
    Who are those amazing artistes who “have been singing for years, never give up, and yet are almost unknown to the outside world”? Their addresses and their phone numbers please?

  9. I agree that everyone needs a passion, a dream to hold on to make the mundane life more interesting. However, I don’t understand how family life (that one chose of their own accord) can be blamed for the missed career advancements. Life should be enjoyed for what it offers this moment – it will not be too long before the kids go off to college and then should we be ruing over the quality time we could have spent enriching our + their lives instead of the time that was actually spent ruing over our missed career dreams? I belive, art should be loved for the sake of art. And I also believe that if it is done in this spirit, there will not be a single moment of ruing over lost dreams or passions.

  10. Hi All,

    The topic is really getting hot. But all said and done this arena is now becoming a rat race. Too many sabhas and it is the same set of performers. The old gen is yet on the stage. I know this is controversial. But then this is my view which I strongly feel many will share but never speak out. And as sudha said luck place a very important part. The three most essential needs to establish yourself is : Money, Luck, Somebody to lift you always. I know many good performers who are yet to be recognized and it is not only in the field of dance but in almost all fields.

  11. Bharathi, if you do know many good performers who are yet to be recognized, why don’t you write about them and offer to Sangeetha’s blog or mine? If there is really something interesting, we surely will be happy to give them a little more publicity 🙂

  12. Hi,

    I had not given my daughter’s name in any of my blog and I am surprised to know how you found out….. Some of the dancers whom I feel are yet to be recognised are Madhusudhan, Tiruchelvam, Ranjit Babu, Gayathri Balagurunathan(though she is now being recognized, for the knowledge she has, I think she deserves much more than this), and many performers who have performed for Sumukhi Rajasekhar foundations. I have seen many of their performances and don’t know their names.

  13. Hi Bharatanatyam,

    There are many girls who are really good…T.M.Sridevi, Swetha. Manjari (Daughter and disciple of Prof.Chandru Mama) whom I feel is known only among the dancing group and needs much more recognition……Ganga…..I hope you ll also agree…….

  14. @Others and Indian Bride: I am sure its never late to start dancing! If you miss dancing so much you can start even now! “Manam irundhaal maargam undu” (maargam here can also mean the Bharathanatyam repertoire. ;))

    @ Mrs.Bharathi:’Bharathanatyam'(may you pls let us know your name?) knows about everyone in the dance fraternity.. dancers, accompanists, parents of dancers, reviewers, bloggers,etc.. i wonder how he/she manages to do that!

  15. (A Totally off the track comment)But i agree with Bharatanatyam..vidyalakshmi is a good dancer.. have seen her in thaka dhimi tha (teasing the makeup man), sapthaswarangal (singing manmadha rasa), avigna’s performances,Madhisoodhanan’s troupe (thaka dhimi tha’s 250th episode) her guru’s production on Devi, Radhika Shuirajit’s thirukkural and Aadal Kaaneero…

  16. Hi Madhana

    I read all reviews in papers, books and basically my family is highly interested in music and dance……..My dad use to breath music and was an ardent fan of the stalwarts like GNB, Madurai Mani, MS amma, MLV, DKP, Chemmangudi, Kalyanaraman, Balamurali Sir, TNK, Lalgudi, Chowdiah, S.Balachander and many more…….. There used to be lot of discussions about music and dance always in Home. He was also a very fabulous orator loved Bharathi to that extreme, that he wanted his wedding day to be on the Birthday of Bharathi and now you must be knowing why I have got this name…. So the little bit of knowledge that I have(or so if you think) is from my wonderful family.

  17. Dear Bharathi,
    I just wanted to remind you that we were talking about “many good performers who are yet to be recognized”.

    Neither T.M.Sridevi, nor Manjari nor Ranjit fall into the category of “yet to be recognized”. In fact, they are quite famous and do not complain.

    By the way, which Swetha did you mean? Since you are in the Kalakshetra clan, I think you meant Swetha Vijayaraghavan, Sujatha’s daughter. But then, how can you say that she is “yet to be recognized”??? I would be lucky if I had a mommy promoter like Sujatha! 😉
    I mean to say that, in my humble opinion, the first prize at the 2007 Spirit of Youth competition should have been given to another (slightly better) contestant. 😉

    I am sure you did not watch another Swetha, Swetha Sukumar, who is actually marginally better than Sujatha’s daughter.

    You surely did not mean that Swetha Ravishankar is “outstanding”, nor the Swetha of guru Karthiyayini Srinivas, or the Swetha of guru Ranganayaki Jararaman, nor Swetha Balakrishnan, nor the rich D.Swetha of guru Ratnamala Raveendran (the least professional “guru” that I have ever seen), nor Swetha Sameeksha, nor M.Swetha of Vijay Madhavan.

  18. For those who do not know, Sujatha Vijayaraghavan with 442 votes was elected committee member of the Music Academy, who conduct the Spirit of Youth competition.

    So, Bharathi, what do you think? 😉

  19. For those who do not know, Sujatha Vijayaraghavan with 442 votes was elected in 2005 to be a committee member of the Music Academy, who conduct the Spirit of Youth competition.

    So, Bharathi, what do you think? 😉

  20. Mrs.Bharathi, please read that comment once more.. You ve misconstrued my intention! I meant to say that the blogger by name “Bharathanatyam” knows everyone.. I did not mean you 🙂

  21. Hi Madhana…….sorry I thought you had made the comments for both…..and Bharatanatyam (I know you are not Ashwini and if my guess is right you are a foreigner who attend many dance receitals…….I think you were there at the performance of Medha Hari at Sumukhi function).

  22. and to add further Bharatanatayam, if you can go back and see my comment on24th Feb I would have mentioned much more recognition……and I have not stated that they are not recognized………

  23. Thanks ashwini for letting us know your name 🙂 and abotu spirit of youth 2007.. have really no idea.. i attended just one performance.. that of Aishwarya Ananth.. November is exam time.. 🙂

  24. Ms.ASHIWINI!!!!!! I am amazed at your knowledge of dancers! “You surely did not mean that Swetha Ravishankar is “outstanding”, nor the Swetha of guru Karthiyayini Srinivas, or the Swetha of guru Ranganayaki Jararaman, nor Swetha Balakrishnan, nor the rich D.Swetha of guru Ratnamala Raveendran (the least professional “guru” that I have ever seen), nor Swetha Sameeksha, nor M.Swetha of Vijay Madhavan.” :O :O

  25. Bharathi, you creative abilities surely exceed your detective skills 🙂 Anyway, if you prefer to call me any foreign name rather than Ashwini, I don’t mind! 🙂 By the way, when was that Medha Hari’s performance at Sumukhi function?

    Madhana, my “knowledge of dancers” is not entirely “mine”: I partly rely on the opinion and observations of many people who have proved more or less objective in their judgement. We all agree when we see a poramboke or mediocre dancer, and I don’t waste my time on going to watch these kinds of dancers. When they say that some dancer is excellent, I personally go and watch.

  26. Yes Madana. I totally agree. She recently received an award (sorry I don,t remember the title)from Smt.Alarmelvalli, which was instituted
    by Smt. Anitha Guha for nattuvangam. Has a dynamic way of rendering Jathis.

  27. What – in your opinion – is “recognition”?

    The number of various awards and titles that are traded like political favours (on a “you people vote for me and we will vote for you”)?

    Or the number of reviews in the newspapers?

  28. What – in your opinion – is “recognition”?

    The number of various awards and titles that are traded like political favours (on a “you people vote for me and we will vote for you” basis)?

    Or the number of reviews in the newspapers?

  29. Do you want the talent be properly acknowledged by the half-blind and the half-deaf??? 😦
    That’s asking too much of them!

    As for Hindustani, sorry, I don’t know. I have never been interested in Hindustani or Persian music.

  30. @ Ms.Ashwini: Recognition is in my opinion the number of people who attend a dancer’s solo performance.. For a few average dancers audience throng the hall.. But for some really good dancers the hall is almost empty.. Another measure of recognition would be the no. of performances you get in sabhas during the season…A few average dancers get as many as six solo performances every season but a few good dancers get only one solo performance or don’t even get any!

  31. The Dhananjayans recently stated that they have never been interested in performances in sabhas, and that they will limit these to a minimum. Sabha business is a very recent development.

    “for a few average dancers audience throng the hall”… Well, go and see who are the audience: their classmates, schoolmates, and relatives and their mom’s colleagues.

    Attendance at the live performances is a factor, of course, but even Alarmel Valli’s performance in Bharat Kalachar a year ago gathered fewer than 100 rasikas. And Anita Ratnam commented that Alarmel’s are the only performances that gather lots of spectators!

    The question is, what kind of spectators are there in the hall? If a dancer wants to gather a lot of cheri spectators, she can do a strip dance: half of Chennai will come and watch and clap their hands.

    The ratio of the cultured and refined rasikas (who find it harder and harder to attend live performances) is going down. It is actually good. It is good because it motivates the dancers to re-discover the true Bharatanatyam techniques and to raise their level.

    Instead of judging by the attendance at the live performances I would suggest that the number of views (popularity) of a dancer’s video is a far better indicator, along with the viewers’ comments and ratings. Go to YouTube and check out.

  32. Hi Ashwini,

    You have been asking us about what is recognization as far as we are concerned? What is your idea about it.? and I feel some of your words are too harsh. It can be refined (left to your option though)

  33. Popularity is one.

    Prizes won at honest competitions is another.

    Appreciation (and attendence) of the “regular” (“professional”) rasikas (not relatives or classmates) who have watched over 500 performances in their life is another.

    The biggest achievement is when a guru of another style admires your dancing and even starts teaching bits and pieces of your style to his/her own students! 🙂 This is how Bharatanatyam evolves.

  34. There is one very old rasika (this lean man always comes in white and wears a towel over his shouler) who sits in the first rows. When he is really impressed with a dancer’s performance, he gives this dancer Rs.500 .

    It happens very rarely. 🙂 Because the man is just lower-middle class, quite poor actually.

    So, this Rs.500 has a greater value than 100000 reviews published in the Hindu.

  35. Dear Ashwini

    I know him. He was there at Narada Gana Saba Mini Hall for Monthly Kalaposhakam Function. He attends all dance and music functions at VDS regularly.

  36. Pingback: The Feminine Mystique | Sa·

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