Monday 19 August 2013

Roses & Thorns - Foot in Mouth Odours! - Dr.Anita Ratnam

‘Master of Arts: A life in dance’ by author Tulsi Badrinath was released in Delhi on April 24, 2013. In chapter 19 on page 99, Bharatanatyam dancer Charles Ma of Bangalore has commented that “In Bangalore, there are no good gurus. Everything is in bits and pieces in Bangalore.” 
This caused varied reactions in Bangalore and outraged dance teachers and dancers. Arts consultant Usha RK penned her thoughts in her blog on August 14, 2013.
Charles Ma discontinued his Facebook account, and then issued a public apology on Facebook via Usha RK on August 15, 2013 that is reproduced.

Read the article in the site


  1. Bangalore has always seen a different varied of artists & arts. Like being a cosmopolitan city, the city has embraced all kinds of arts & artists. Regarding this young dancers view , it is a shame that a dancer like this is being encouraged by the art fraternity in Bangalore. He not getting a good guru is his “karma” & he being a open gay, is his issue as well as issues of the city dancers in Bangalore. Agreed he is not only one & as he says there are many closed gays in Bangalore scene ( which is true) .
    Infact barring few male dancers, I also agree with his statement. But his behavior towards Guru’s in Bangalore is totally unwanted for. He always kept changing his guru’s name often ( once in a year), so it is not surprising today when he says he is disciple of one of the top most bureaucratic cum dancer’s disciple.
    One word of author of that book, it is such a shame she brings in article like this in a book which is written on such a legend guru. Hoping The Guru himself will come out with a solution for this. Also this shows the irresponsibility of the author, as to what to feature or whom to feature in such books. Thumbs down to the author & thumbs up for the people ( very few in Bangalore) who have taken this issue seriously.
    Regarding Anita ratnam’s words there is always good & bad dancers every where. Bangalore has also got its own groupism, especially now, may be from past two years. People consider Chennai no unity among dancers, but the younger lot seems to mix & work together. So no place is the best for so & so, all have good & bad. Madam Anita, you are seeing from far, I am in this city for many many years & seeing the dance scene change in Bangalore over years. It has many plus as well as ……………………………………………….

  2. In June to August 2011 I was given the opportunity to study in Mysore when the Vivekananda Institute, and by extension,the University of Mysore, hosted a group of students from Concordia University in Montreal. We were treated to musical performances from Carnatic and Hindustani musicians, Bharatanatyam teachers and dance students, vocalists, etc. If I hadn't realised the richness of Mysore arts and culture before, I did when I had finished the semester. The artists shared their art, their talents and their gifts to us without asking anything more than an open mind.

    Despite having studied dance for more than a decade, I was humbled by their openness, and the fact that classical Indian dance culture is theirs. There is a naturalness of the artists' abhinaya because the words are so ingrained in their being, as integral to them as mother's milk. I could spend the next 50 years in Mysore, and only then would I begin to feel the nuances of the understanding that came so naturally to Mysore artists. Unfortunately, I did not study with any of the dance gurus as a full semester of Indian history and religion, beginners Hindi and feminist studies was enough to occupy my time and efforts. If it is to be my fate, I will get back to the city to study dance and music.

    One last thing: Whatever greatness you achieve, there is always someone who is better than you. Maybe Mr. Ma needs to remember this. The fact that many male dancers are gay, secret or not, is nobody's business but theirs. So, Mr. Ma can be openly gay. Kudos to him, but his critical attitude about how open or closed they are about their sexuality says more about him than it does about the dancers. If one chooses to include one's sexuality in the praise of gods and goddesses,that is all well and good but one must be careful to observe when ego creeps in.

  3. What exactly do we dancers mean when we use the term "guru"? I feel that this is word is used rather irresponsibly. Anyone who teaches dance (or anything else, for that matter) is NOT a guru! Even someone like Shri V.P.Dhananjayan, who has a vast amount of experience and exposure in the dance field, addresses himself as "nAtyAchArya".

  4. I had just got the book and I have been reading it with great interest as it is about Dhanjayan Sir. I was actually surprised to read the chapter as it did not seem to have any context with the rest of the book. I was surprised at the sudden insertion of this chapter. The switching of stories between Tulsi classes and then Sir life was going on fine till this aberration. It would be interesting to find out what the author was thinking when she wrote it and I am surprised how this slipped past the editors and other reviewers. Just to set context I am only past a few pages past that chapter.

  5. Hats off Usha Ji! I truely second your opinion word by word! Charles by making this public statement has not only shown disrespect to teachers but also to the very dance form through which he is surviving!
    In fact he should be thankful that he is getting the blessings and support of so many gurus that he is able to dance!

    Charles should speak to those thousands of people who want to continue dance but couldn’t due to many issues in life! He would then feel how lucky he is!

    Dance is not any academic qualification where you get a degree and go on to do a job with a salary!
    Besides, years of hardwork and learning, it is the sheer blessings of Gurus that can help you become a “True dancer”.

  6. There are many that say that one dance teacher is better than the other; not just as openly as he did. Is kalakshetra better that vazhuvoor or pandanallur? Kalakshetra students look down upon others and vice versa from other styles.Even you Ms. Ratnam were criticized for your lyrical dance forms by the sabhas - may be even looked a bit crazy to them. However that is your personal niche as an artiste. Ma was probably taken out of context... may be he meant to say that the bhakti he was lacking or looking for was not in the guru or was not personally fulfilled by them. He was in a search for that right guru who will fulfill his personal needs as an artiste, may be he is yet to find one. All of us evolve over the ages and stages of life, he will evolve too. Everything taken in the correct context will open our eyes to a new world. Not everything needs to be controversial.

    Mahesh Kedlaya - it sadly has become a business or means to earn a living without the true bhakti. May be Ma came across that a lot.