Orchestrated troubles…

A prominent dancer is getting ready for her program at a dance festival. The vocalist calls in saying she wont be able to make it “Family problems!!!”  The stunned dancer recovers and finds a student with whom she has to make do.

At this place, there are no violinists, the violinist is flown in from neighboring Country (Parents pay for the airfare and the fee). The lonesome Mridangist is supposed to make good the occasion!!! That escalated the arangetram costs people pronounce..

“Are we any less than the Silicon Valley fellows?” Why shouldn’t we expect a good pay?, questions a musician…

Why not CD?

Anitam Ratnam uses them! “High quality CD’s are way better than  “sumar” singing says a teen. A middle aged traditionalist says,” cha what is a dance program without live music”

I ask a talented dancer if the mallari wouldnt look a tad more refined if it was sung at a slighlty slower tempo..

“Akka, it was a commercial recording, they put in as many as possible for economic factors. If I made one to my own choreography a margam would cost me Rs. 30,000!” She sighs and adds who pays me for it though. This will do!

A student checks with her teacher if a commercial recording can be used for performance at school? Go ahead says the teacher, otherwise who would even think of buying those CD’s she quips. They look like Tollywood pieces she smirks because of the speed..

Current forums have suggested training/using upcoming carnatic musicians. One friend says, ” oh she flatly refused to sing for dance, dosent want to spoil her voice ! Even veterans are upset about their stint accompanying the dancers”

“My guru dosent give casettes easily and she dosent let me share them” sadly confesses a dancer to a friend afraid that would end their comradeship.

Well the problem is multidimensional alright..

Using of amateurs trained in carnatic music vocal/instrumental/mridangam seems like a good option as suggested in a few forums, at least where quality artists are unavailable or unaffordable for the particular event . But practice and relearning a few aspects may be necessary and should be taken in the right spirits.

So if you are are a trained carnatic musician(vocalist or instrumentalist) and would like to try accompanying dancers, please leave your  details here

  1. Your name and age
  2. City/Country of residence
  3. Your specialisation (vocal/which instrument)
  4. Your training details/how long have you trained/experience etc.
  5. Contact email/website URL.

As Ashwini comments, “VDS Arts Academy” has a registry of upcoming musicians and dancers. You could try contacting them for suggestions at :

VDS Arts Academy
(Arts wing of Muthukrishnan Memorial Club),

20,IV Lane, Nungambakkam High Road, Chennai – 600034.

Phone: 044 – 28117485 / 24333746 / 28142359 / 94441 72342

e-mail: vdsartsacademy@yahoo.co.in

10 responses to “Orchestrated troubles…

  1. Quoting…“My guru dosent give casettes easily and she dosent let me share them” sadly confesses a dancer to a friend afraid that would end their comradeship.”
    Hardly few realize that almost all the dance related songs do not have any copyright. If the guru hesitates to share then I think she is putting a very big hurdle in spreading the music. She obviously would have got it from someone else..Imagine Venkatakavi/Swati tirunal holding back their songs…would there by any magic left if it had happened…My guru always asked as to give blank casettes so that she could record the songs and we could play it some other time when live orchestra could not be used.
    Dear Ragothaman,
    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views.
    I agree with the magnanimous intention behind your comment.. but, it is unfair to compare all dance teachers to Venkatakavi/Swati tirunal. Swati Tirunal was a royal composer and most other period composers had patrons who took care of them. With the abolition of the Princely states, the art support system also crumbled. So now an artists who takes his art as a full time occupation, is left to fend for him/herself. So you cant totally blame them when they don this protectionist attitude.
    I must say you are blessed with a generous guru.

  2. Ragothaman, there are 2 types of cassettes: those commercially available and the custom-made records. If a guru had to spend Rs.50000 to pay the orchestra and the studio to record a 60-min track… And if the guru had to pay a composer to compose the music and do the music arrangement, it could cost another Rs.50000 a piece.

    Sangeetha, I don’t understand why you ask to “please leave your details here” if (VDS) can give you the details of “1700 budding artistes registered” (as per their web site)!


    Dear Ashwini,
    Thanks for your input.
    Yep sorry, I will check into the VDS website and provide a link to contact them for details. So if there are those in the VDS database or others who haven’t been a part of VDS, who are willing to accompany a Bharathanatyam recital, they may leave a note here.

  3. Dear Sangeetha and Ashwini,
    As you had already mentioned the problem is multidimensional. I totally agree with this. I also agree the custom made recordings are a big investment and needs lot of hard work. My point was if the guru has a custom made recording wouldn’t he/she be giving it to her disciples with good intention that they will learn more from the recordings and maybe improve on them? Isn’t that amounts to good faith? Restraining his/her own creations from his/her disciples is a bit contradictory to me when she himself/herself is trying to spread the art.

    But as you say the times have changed with self financing these days, artists are protectionist. I am not blaming them for that. Pity state of affairs. I maybe thinking in a different way but these are my musings.


    Hi again Ragothaman,
    In theory sharing cassette should “amount to good faith”.. But where does the Guru get that kind of money to produce for eg say even 2-3 margams, ? It all boils down to economics…
    And in a way she is doing a favour to her disciples by making those Custom made CDs.
    And secondly they may teach the item, but the students may need to pay extra if they need a professional recording that they would like to use for their performance…
    I feel like you do about this Ragothaman, but I am also trying to see the other point of view too.

  4. I do know some generous gurus who give freely even the custom made recording to all of their students, but I also know some stingy gurus who will not give their students a single cassette even for a home practice! 🙂 Student beware! 🙂 Unfortunately, most students learn about this huge “hidden cost” only after they have joined a school. So in a way it is a financial fraud. Shall we expose such gurus? Or shall we make a directory of for all gurus so that each school’s policies and rules are stated explicitly?

    The problem is that a recording custom made for one student often will not fit another student. For example, one student may not be able to do the same steps as well as others, so the entire jathis often have to be replaced by a different set. The speed will be different. Some students may not be able to keep the balance in the static poses, etc. And even in the pure abhinaya pieces there will be huge differences where the music has to be adapted to suit a particular student.

  5. a borrowed discussion from rasikas.org, well now are u now reproducing discussions too sangeeta, i thought it was just the articles. Well, dont take this seriously, i was just kiddin’.

    good discussion, no solution. even in rasikas.org this dancer requested someone to volunteer for her chidambaram and thanjavur natyaanji, poor thing, seems to have forgone both.

    Hi Rukmini/Omaha user!
    Nice to see you drop by.
    The solution for most problems isn’t available instantly. And more so for the multidimensional ones where the GDP of a nation and economic levels of it citizens directly/indirectly cross the path with the Govt sponsorship for arts. Well then should artists have another stable profession to sustain them? I know a talented few struggling this way. Its just very sad! Well arts for art sake seems to be forgotten to a large extent. Most students want to be performers. I am not sure if that’s the right approach too!

    Well I am not arts management specialist with a quick solution to the problem.. I could just help a few find CDs with the items or facilitate collaboration if I knew of a possibility. This is just a stop gap thingy. Artists must collaborate and develop a healthy relationship to sustain each other. The need for a Holistic approach to arts management is immediate and I think the corporate sector have pitched in in a small way and need to widen their efforts. But isn’t the recession making it hard for them too? The extreme cynicism, destructive criticism and snobbishness should do well forgotten and stored behind the wardrobe.

    I never claimed authorship on anything that wasn’t mine. As I have pointed out many times earlier, this was a “read recommendation/think list” for close friends that has grown to reach a wider audience for reasons best known to regular readers . I have not monetized the blog, nor have I looked for some kind of growth potential bcos of it. I am not in the field at all, except as an enthusiastic interested rasika. And this problem/discussion is not limited to the readers of rasikas alone. It was very much a part of the personal experiences of people close to me in the recent past.

    If you come up with/ hear of some positive ideas/contributions to this front, please share it with us.

    I have been told that this poor dancer who “requested someone to volunteer for her chidambaram and thanjavur natyaanji, poor thing, seems to have forgone both.” is now be based in Omaha too. Probably you could talk it out with her 🙂

  6. “Well then should artists have another stable profession to sustain them?”

    Yes, yes, and yes!

    If the devadasis used to learn 64 subjects (all related to dance, not sewage management), no wonder many became quite rich. And, mind you, they were able to do even the most difficult karanas perfectly well. Today’s lazy whining dancers amaze me.

    Sangeetha, dear, I will be cooking for you till my death if you know at least 1 poor dancer who has mastered not only dance but all of these too:
    – vocal and instrumental music
    – composing songs in 5-6 languages
    – astrology
    – painting, sculpture, designing jewelry, etc
    – tailoring (Vyjayantimala still stitches her own costumes up to now!)
    – cosmetology, make-up, hair styling, etc
    – yoga, fitness, basic ayurveda
    – charms and magic spells
    – rhetorics, literature

    And what about other subjects????

    Hi Ashwini!
    I am really sad I am not going to get to get pampered by you anytime soon! Oh I currently get to more often than not see young dancers who still need to learn their steps 🙂
    Maybe you could add Arts management and PR to your list to suit current demands.
    Magic spells eh?
    Best wishes,

  7. Sangeetha, these 3 Bharatanataym virtuosos are urgently looking for corporate sponshorships:

    What career advice can you give them? 😦

    Dear Ashwini,
    Where did you find this one?
    I am sure you would have given them a fitting advice ! 🙂

  8. Hey, Sangeetha, it’s not fair to hide the trio’s picture from the readers’ eyes! 🙂 If you laugh, let others join in loud laughing too! Don’t be selfish 😉

  9. I have been told that this poor dancer who “requested someone to volunteer for her chidambaram and thanjavur natyaanji, poor thing, seems to have forgone both.” is now be based in Omaha too. Probably you could talk it out with her

    sure and why not, could you ask your source to provide me the address and phone number and a name may be? and BTW, Your source thinks that she is the only one who can mislead the ip addresses????!!! Think of today’s technological advancement Sangeeta.

  10. And Since I am Sincere in my quest to help people, i will want the person’s contact info pls.

    Dear Rukmini,
    Since you found the quote in rasikas, you could mail the contact through their forum..

    And as for proxy/anonymous email addresses and IP addresses I am not sure that’s what I would mean by ” technological advancement”… Declaring one’s view and standing by it needs some integrity and courage. I really cant see the beauty/development in the current trend of anonymous/ worse still using a proxy identity to express views.Can you? Some of the views may be very genuine and genius, but then its still a futile exercise. Its always exciting to access yellow journalism, till one’s name is on it!

    The general saying is ” Dont say anything on the net that you wont hold as a poster beside your face” with regards to net etiquette. Well most schools include that in their Acceptable Use Policy. Kids as young as 6 are expected to understand and abide by it. Virtual anonymity and freedom of speech are two different things! Freedom comes and should be handled with responsibility!

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