Wednesday 3 November 2021

Unmute - Power and what it does - Paramita Saha

In our recent Arts & the Law sessions organized by, one question returned often: 'If the person on the other side is a really powerful one, what should we do?' That brought me to the question of what power is and how was it perceived and by who. What makes the powerful truly powerful, what corrupts the powerful and how do they wield their power.

The earliest perception of power is in the family when we are children. Who makes the rules, who calls the shots, who decides, who pays for things, where does the buck stop. Then in school: who knows more, who can instruct, who can punish. Then in our relationships, who decides what happens, who apologizes more often, who has more money, who knows more about how things work, at work who reports to whom, who can force you to do more, who can make you work on your holidays, who can taunt you, goad you, ridicule you, bully you.

Coleman says that power is associated with personal characteristics of individuals or groups whereas authority is tied to social positions or roles. Abuse of power in the arts happens as a strong decoction of both of these. Traditional authority invested in our gurus or teachers is socially legitimate, historically valid, morally conforming to precedent. Students are supposed to 'obey' and not question. Students of the arts, especially dance, are physically vulnerable, open to corrections by the teacher or seniors acting as teachers or seniors assuming to be teachers who find bullying a common way to impose their authority.

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1 comment:

  1. This is so well written and essential now for Dance - not just in India but everywhere. Dance leaders needs to step up and be accountable. Thank you.