Tuesday 30 July 2019

Famine in floods - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

So, with so many dancers that abound, especially in popular forms like Bharatanatyam, one would think the dance field is flooded with talents and finding a teacher would be easy? No way. 

In July, Guru Purnima messages became more inventive and innovative, with new trend that most were assuming they were great gurus at 30! Some super-imposed their own photos on ancient looking sages and flooded WhatsApp with their promotional materials. 

So when a well established institution in Gujarat said KUCHCH DIN TOU PADHARO HAMARE GUJARAT MEIN! tag line, I asked about 30 close people in dance if they would be interested in going to Gir lion land. Out of 30, only 3 showed interest. One may ultimately qualify. 

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  1. Thank you Sir for bringing up once again a very important topic. It is a serious issue when youngsters become self proclaimed Gurus. My suggestion to parents is get interested in the art form , ask questions , read on the subject . This will empower you to understand where your child will truly gain knowledge. So many times I have seen students who have learnt for a good 5 years or so cannot progress from thah to chaugun or athgun when theka is played on the tabla.

  2. I don't agree with certain things mentioned in the article. For instance, I don't think anyone who has been trained in a particular dance form for years is completely, incapable of teaching it to others. Every trainee spends years in a institute making numerous mistakes, learning from them, rectifying techniques, getting familiar with the music and a number of compositions, which naturally builds up 40% of the teaching ability. What matters to the dancer, who is willing to teach is how to raise that bar upto 60 or atleast 70% in terms of the quality of teaching, which is only possible when he/she is given the opportunity to teach to a number of students and a space to experiment different ways of teaching while keeping in mind the different pace of learning of each student. There are many institutes who do not allow a trainee to teach until and unless the course is over, so Calling dancers who are just out of dance school, unemployable talents would completely be unfair when none of them are actually even given an opportunity to prove their worth.
    Practically in order to be a star in dance field, one eventually has to perform often at various sabhas and places, which certainly is not everyone's cup of tea and as most people in the field are aware of, there are many other factors which come in role in which the quality of dance is secondary, which is one such reason why the more deserving and beautiful dancers don't get an opportunity to perform.
    I also think that there are many dancers who enjoy performing, be it solo or in group more than teaching and on the other hand we have dancers who are willing to teach, who may or may not be good performers on stage but certainly can mould beautiful dancers. It should be their choice in deciding and continuing with what they are most potential at and encouraged to do so.