Saturday 25 May 2019

A for arangetram - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Earlier, a guru decided when his or her ward - shishya - was ready for the stage to be presented to the society of peers, family and friends. Today, a student is ever ready! Parents are more ready (read, often over ambitious) and most gurus too want to show off their wares, in the hope that seeing the debutante on stage more may join the guru's class, raising both the income of a school or chances of a teacher to shine with a prized pupil. 

Arangetrams also means gifts that a guru gets (move over days of gold chains and saris, one in Madras takes a car per arangetram and had so many lined up in their street that neighbors thought the guru was a car dealer too!) hosting such a do akin to a wedding. From the card, to hall, decor, costume, even food, everything looks like a mini wedding, a glittering gathering.....

Qualities of heart one looks for in artistes. If they don't have it, how can they even claim to be one? Most are mistaking skill for art. Anyone who learns little dance or music thinks they have become an artist! They have only acquired a skill. Like plumber does, or an electrician. Only after years of practice a skill becomes a craft. Once a craft is honed and sharpened it sometimes becomes art. Artists are born, not made. It's not mere training but attitude. Unless you are a born genius like some legends were - Ram Gopal, Uday Shankar, Guru Gopinath - Balasaraswati whose centenary just got over and IGNCA under a truly cultured head Dr. Sachidanand Joshi, made effort to mount a two day focus in May. Trustees Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and Dr. Sonal Mansingh, flanked by another great Pt. Birju Maharaj recalled her life and work. Thus, the month of May was fulsome.

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