Academic Exams in place of Arangetrams???

A couple of years ago I remember reading and discussing  with a few friends about the possibility of performance (theory and practical) based assessments/examinations conducted by recognized institutes replacing the traditional arangetrams, especially among the Asian diasporans.

Mr. Ragothaman  shared  a PDF copy of a  2006 Master’s dissertation titled “Does the introduction of the ISTD South Asian Dance Bharata Natyam Examinations spell the death of the traditional Arangetram in the UK?” submitted by Shalini Bhalla to the  School of Arts,  Roehampton University . Of course the dissertation predominantly concentrates on the curriculum and conduct of UK based ISTD examinations.

Here are a few quotes from this interesting read

One of the many criticisms of arangetrams today is the amount of money spent on them. The answer to this could be that if people have the money and time to spend on arangetrams – then that is their choice. If parents want to fund an arangetram, and the community backs it then there really can be no reason why this should not happen.
Although not everyone involved in the examination system is convinced by this, and the notion that it is more about training teachers rather than performers has been discussed

One also often hears about commercially driven arangetrams presenting dancers who are not yet ready, or interested students not able to afford arangetrams. But can a graded examination accurately assess a student’s performance skills?

So, what do you readers feel?

3 responses to “Academic Exams in place of Arangetrams???

  1. today, we are wondering if we need to re think exams at the school college level itself. an arangetram is only the beginning of a greater journey, a sign that the dancer is ready for that shift. it’s another matter that it has turned into a money spinner! maybe the teachers need to re-connect to their inner souls. isn’t that what art is supposed to do?

  2. What about standardizing the exams already in place in India and globalizing them? I feel like many in India do not necessarily present “commercial arangetrams” but pass these exams, and give programs – also they mean to continue their learning process, and don’t seem to treat the arangetram as a “graduation” as many in the UK and US do. The arangetram or rangapravesham is the first full program a dancer does (usually solo), and that has some merit – it is no easy task to gain that stamina and perform for an audience. I would think studying for an exam or set of exams would be easier.
    However, I would say placing exams as milestones in a dancer’s learning career would prepare them better for an arangetram performance and may drive down the number of “commercial arangetrams” if exams were made a pre-requisite. (i.e. pass junior exam before starting the arangetram margam; pass intermediate exam before performing arangetram; senior and vidwat after arangetram)

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