In the Bharatanatyam establishment multitude of issues that plague the community get discussed in private whispers year after year. There is a general lack of appetite for open and public discourse. Everything is wrapped up under the carpet and pretended that "all is well". Here the phrase "Bharatanatyam establishment" I refer to, consists of active Bharatanatyam artists (non-performing teachers, senior and young performing artists), institutions, Bharatanatyam dance critics, sabhas (assembly or organization for the arts), and other South Indian arts organizations in Chennai, and South Indian arts organizations in other metropolitan cities in India, and globally particularly in the USA that promote Bharatanatyam.
While numerous problematic issues permeate the art form ranging from lack of diversity equity, and inclusion (DEI), systemic nepotism, to non-inclusion of the larger international Bharatanatyam community in the December festival I chose to focus on three issues namely, cultural appropriation of Bharatanatyam, corruptive practices of arts organizations and sexual abuse cases within the Indian dance institutions although each of these issues deserve a separate article to be able to discuss in depth. The chosen issues hold significance due to recent events and discussions surrounding them. While one issue gained attention on social media, another garnered coverage in both social and news media. The third issue, although never publicly addressed, has permeated the entire dance field worldwide. Despite their seemingly disparate nature, these issues are intrinsically linked, with implications that resonate across the Bharatanatyam community. It is crucial to shine a spotlight on these issues, initiate open dialogue, and foster meaningful change.
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