Saturday 5 April 2014

Article - Gender and Dance - Dr. Neena Prasad

When the work of any dancer is more inclined towards a gender based repertoire, the dancer is automatically slipping into a comfort zone. This form of expression although an individual privilege, nevertheless becomes a very subjective approach, whereas a dancer needs to be  equipped with several layers of consciousness to experiment the endless artistic possibilities thus helping the dance form to explore the higher realms of transitions through art.
Natya is considered as a supreme medium of expression and a nata exhibits this potential through the dramatic element. It is also an artist’s manodharma that calls for the spontaneous and imaginative prowess of an artist that creates the magic of rasa. A contemporary dancer, soloist may need to transform to a protagonist, a heroic character, a pining heroine or a passive story teller or any character called for. The dancer has to bring the gender, age or psychological states of the character into the grasp of his physical demeanour. For this, a dancer, the soloist needs to depersonalise from “self”. He needs to strip himself of his identity and become neutral; then take to submissive yet assertive transformation to present a real and wholesome artistic experience. Bharata, while explaining the physical attributes of the masculine and feminine body through the lasya and tandava modes of expression, mentions that actors can mask these aspects expressed and explored irrespective of their genders. Hence, the physical presence of the bearing or bareness of breasts should not interfere while considering artistic calibre. 

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