Could More be Better?

Should dancers learn more than one dance form?

Mr. Ragothaman brought this article titled “Dance with me” by Madhumitha Srinivasan in The Hindu to my attention.

We exchanged a few emails on the subject and we ended up thinking that there could be more to this than just a simple single yes/no.

Here are a few” random” reflections  from a few of us on the subject …

  • ” I took a course called Dance appreciation. They taught and showed all the different types of (modern and world) dance forms …
    In anycase, my attraction to BN became more after going to that class. Since I could relate those concepts of level, energy and space in BN and opened a new way of thinking and appreciation BN.
    However, when people mix dance forms I am not very sure of that. My point is learn or at least read about other dance forms and start appreciating the one dance form one has been trained into for years. Learn many stick to one.”
  • “How originally  the inspiration  from cross-pollination blends during performance will decide the success or failure of learning more than one dance form. You cant keep your audience guessing about the dance form you are performing !”
  • “Knowledge of dance forms by itself will help any artist  to develop his/her own style in the dance form they are comfortable with and (realize) where their calling is.
  • “I am against it because it to me shows a lack of focus”
  • “This is a story of people thinking the world is just your home, opening your doors widens your horizons and brings all that is fresh and innovative and kindles your creativity”.
  • “I would watch but never learn, because it is impossible to keep the influence from showing up”

More Questions…

SO, the question about learning more than one dance form has a lot of underlying questions to be answered.
  • Should the learning be serious/ of introductory nature/or for just fun?
  • Talking about other forms such as complementary(eg: BN+Mohiniattam/Kuchipudi/Odissi)/contrasting(Eg BN+ Modern dance) is one better than the other?
  • Should the student be able to  aestheticallybring in the influence  or  should he or she be able to keep them apart?
  • Is the multi pronged approach making the student lose focus or improving his understanding?

The only thing all of us agreed on this subject was to open this up for a poll here. Please let us know what you feel!

2 responses to “Could More be Better?

  1. First of all, can someone tell me whose Bharatanatyam style is not a result of some kind of cross-pollination or other???? Where, where is the “pure” Bharatanatyam”??? 🙂 What nonsense! You people are really blind!

    A few of today’s popular styles are varieties of cross-pollination between the western ballet, Martha Grahams’ impact and bits of Bharatanatyam? Fraud! Fraud! Fraud!

    So, can one mix Bharatanatyam and strip dance, lap dance or pole dance in a night club? (removed)

    Western dance … (suggestive…removed) …at discos or drinking parties.

    Can one dance Bharatanatyam in a brothel, a casino or a night club? Surprisingly, the upper-middle class dummies think they can!

    Different modes of body movements (and thus, different styles) put your mind in different states. So a good Kuchipudi dancer learns how to get into a Kuchipudi state of mind. A typical error of any superficial western student is to start from learning the external, physical movement without learning the states of mind.

    Bharata Muni specifically says that Kaisiki style (on which Odissi is mostly based) is used for depicting Sringara Rasa and is NOT used in the “adoration of the gods”. Natya Shastra was written long before the rise of the Bhakti movement and the spread of Vaishnavism. And Bharata Muni was obviously a Saivite. Can one have more than one ishta-devata? How many combined Shiva-Vishnu temples are there in Tamil Nadu?

    Interestingly, Bharata Muni says that only in South Indian women can dance the soft (Kaisiki) styles well. Which means that …..(removed) will never be able to reach a professional level in Odissi or Mohiniattam.

    …(removed) Bharatanatyam is far richer in its technique, than Odissi …..(removed)

    A normal human being can consciously control only 1% of the body movement (we can be aware of maximum 9 objects at the same time). Learning one style to some relative perfection implies that 99% of your body movements become automatic, subconscious. And the body can keep only one pattern of these movements automatic.

    Hence the conclusion:

    Unless you are an amateur (and 99% of the dance students ARE amateurs), it is humanly impossible to learn even 2 complimentary styles very well and still “*keep them separate*” , – even if you learn them at different times.

    * Modified as per Ashwini’s correction
    Sangeetha : This comment had to be “heavily” moderated. In reality I hate to have to chop off somebody’s thoughts… but then I also feel since our aim here is to attempt to have a healthy constructive dialogue, it is prudent to keep the caustic touches and phrases that could be hurtful to individuals out of the blog. I am thankful to those who were part of the decision making process to tailor this comment to the fit the principles this blog believes in. I agree that moderation is also suppression of free speech. But free speech comes with responsibilities too!

  2. Correction in the conclusion:
    I should have put “keep them separate” in

    “learn even 2 complimentary styles very well and still keep them together”

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