Pursuing an art along with studies seems to have become the norm these days. Vocal music, instrumental, dance, etc., children keep themselves busy attending classes of all sorts. A few take a break when they face the board exams. Many, however, manage to devote time to both.
While quite a few of those who learn music make studies on the concert circuit and become successful musicians, those who learn dance give up after a point of time – arangetram or debut in most cases. Audience attendance for dance, juniors to be specific, is not encouraging these days. So what motivates parents to make their wards learn the art and what do young aspirants have to say about it?
Says Chithra Hari, “I have encouraged my daughter Medha to take up Bharatanatyam as I am sure it will not interfere with her professional ambitions.” She has been proved right, as Medha, student of Anita Guha (founder of Bharatanjali), has also completed C.A. The parents are also gearing to meet the cost of a live orchestra, costumes, jewellery, travelling and so on.
Medha has participated in all the major dance ballets of Anita Guha and has given many solo performances. She soon will join her teacher who will guide her on how to take up dance as her profession. “I have full faith in the Guru who has recognised the talent in my child and I am sure she will be taken along the right path,” adds Chithra. “Definitely, by the time she begins her own dance school, she will be trained in allied fields such as nattuvangam, music, Sanskrit and others.” At Bharatanjali, students are encouraged to learn nattuvangam, mukha abhinaya and theory through workshops, which are handled by stalwarts such as Gopika Varma and others. Harini Jeevitha, a student of PSBB, is a Balashree Awardee- 2009. She wants to study dance and hold a doctorate in it too. “Good dance spreads positive vibrations. They sink into the character and make us happy,” says Harini. Sheila Unnikrishnan, her guru, vouches for her success. “She is a very hardworking student and I am sure my training in the Melattur style will help her in mastering the art with ease.” Harini too is not worried about the economics or a huge crowd at her recitals. “I am ready for the stiff competition. I am sure with my hard work and technical perfection I will be a crowd-puller,” says Harini.
Though the students strike a good balance between their academics and dance, it becomes difficult to continue learning the art when they get married. More so when kids come into their life. “A dancer definitely needs the support of husband and in-laws, especially, after child birth,” says 36-year-old Malini Balaji, who runs Udikshana Sangeetha Vidyalaya at Madipakkam. Malini claims she is able to pursue her passion and career only with the support of her family.
“Though practising, rehearsing and teaching take away most of my time, it is very satisfying.” Imparting knowledge to the young ones is akin to surrendering oneself to God, she feels. In fact, her students motivate her to learn more. According to her, self motivation, overcoming stage fear and giving oneself to dance and gaining experience with performances is more important than a huge audience. “Self-motivation and being a good rasika are some of the essentials. I want to be a good teacher and have a nice rapport with my students. This, combined with hard work and talent of my students, will help me see a good future in dance,” she concludes.
Though there are various impediments for the dancers, their passion towards the art will help them overcome it. Time alone can determine how well or how soon they can establish themselves and the art.