Season 2013-2014: A Humble Note to Dancers- “ Oh Dancers, Please don’t try so hard!”

In the beginning….Well we heard people talk! We went on to compile a generous “list of don’ts” for dancers voiced by teachers, students, and above all rasikas who may well visit dance performances during this season. I shared this note with Dr. Joyce Paul Siamak (Seattle, USA) and Mrs Neela Renganathan (Chennai, India), who I knew wouldn’t shy away from saying what they felt.  I took it up telephonically with 7 “lazy” others who only voted on the issue. I present all of this here for your perusal.

Honestly speaking, I see that it quite a task for you to satisfy all members of your audience. But then, I believe that your aesthetics, passion and dedication will help you find the right balance, if you kept yourself open to honest constructive criticism. The following points do beg a glance and a few moments of reflection from all of you.

 1. Please don’t try to experiment too much/ or innovate with your costumes. Tissues in the thalaippu, 16 coloured costumes and bit pieces make you look like quilt work. Traditional costumes with apt amount of jewelry will do. 

Response: Joyce Paul Siamak (JPS):     I like using different fabrics/prints for costumes. It allows me to be creative and leverage a bit more of the aharya abhinaya aspect of performance. However, I totally agree that quilt work is not quite the way to go. Costumes should aid in telling a story not distract from it.

Neela Renganathan (NR): It suits a few people, I don’t know why!

Agreed with point: 5/7

2. Please don’t complicate your themes so much, that the narration rests more in the written script delivered by an emcee who looks more attractive than you do. And your abstract choreography warrants using all our faculties to see how your form and movement ties into that narration. We appreciate you taking the trouble to bring in new themes and fresh air, however let the dance speak more

Responses: (JPS):    “  Life is complicated and so are artists. We are used to seeing literal translations of ideas in Indian classical dances. The more I work with and watch non-desi modern/contemporary dancers, the more I see that the relationship between the dance itself and the verbal delivery of the emcee is not necessarily literal. Why should it be? The speaker’s introduction to your piece allows you to connect more deeply and get a peak into the choreographers kaleidoscopic mind.”

(NR): “I might just kill myself if I see a Kathukutti margam again! But then I might sleep if at the beginning of a show an officiando stands behind the podium and gives a discourse that needs me to take notes to understand the dance performance that will start within the next hour (after the discourse that is 😉

Agreed with point: 5/7

 3. Please don’t let the lighting director run wild. It is a bit too hard when most of your show struggles to be seen through blue and spot lights and absence of these. I dont want to carry a torch light to find you. And that disco lighting effect can trigger photosensitive epilepsy!


JSP: “ Disco lighting, Government colony Ramlila lighting, seedy bar lighting – all a big No! No! but lighting can be extremely effective. I love using lights to give shape to my choreographic ideas. Loaded at the right time at the right luminosity at the right spots, lights can really elevate your show.”.

NR.. “Switchlernthu kaiya edungo. Ellarum atthuku pona vittu stage lights anaicha porum” ( take your hands off the light switches. It would suffice if you turned the stage lights off after everyone left).

Agreed with point: 4/7 ( Confusing eh?)

4. Please dont try to bring in all the 3,4,5,7, and 9 into all  your mile long jathis. And dont you compete with the mridanga vidwan all the time. Please visit You tube for some older videos. Some times short is sweet and simple is peaceful.

Responses :

JSP “   OH! Totally agree…I tune off after 2.5 minutes however brilliant the jathi might be in representing the Fibonacci sequence in myriad ways.”

NR: To me,when jathis are too long, let it be any of the numbers you say, it is an interruption.

Agreed with point 7/7 (Yay 100% here, excellent agreement here)

 5. Please dont  attain deep araimandis at the cost of keeping the feet a meter away from each other!


JSP:   “AGREE! Kinesthetically, physiologically, anatomically and philosophically agree!!!”

NR:  “Never ever forget aesthetics.”

Agreed: (6/7, one member said would make notice next time she watched). Great agreement on this one

Yes and many can see how you play with your fans to make your araimandi look better  🙂 Well I think thats innovation too! Right?

Thanks to Joyce and Neela for their time, energy and effort. You guys are really special to us.

Ok then, its the turn for the rest of you to comment and be heard.

One response to “Season 2013-2014: A Humble Note to Dancers- “ Oh Dancers, Please don’t try so hard!”

  1. Email from Samkumar
    This is an excellent post. I agree with all the items.  

    I want to give a comment but could not do it because of wordpress asking password…

    Could you please post my comment given below?  

    Sam Kumar

    It is a distraction when the dancer comes in front and talks to the audience. It is annoying (to say the least) when the dancer explains and literally demonstrate each and every movement of the following item. It feels that we are in her dance class! It gets worse when after a few items, the dancer is sweating and breathless – and still wants to ‘talk’ to the audience. What the audience wants is just a 2-3 minutes behind the screen narration, by someone with a good voice..Enough to explain the setting and a brief summary. We can then enjoy the dance…
    Sam Kumar. Photographer and Film maker with focus on Dance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s