When you think classical, you think disciplined style and structure. But at a time when creative crossovers are the order of the day, an experimental mind might find the traditional repertoire restrictive. As another World Dance Day (April 29) passed by, young classical dancers speak about the challenges of holding on to their passion yet connecting to a new audience.
It’s not difficult guess that I was largely influenced by my dancer-mother Rajeshwari to pursue the art. My mother did not push me into it but I don’t think I would have been happy doing anything else in life. The process of understanding and moving to diverse rhythms excites me. Classical is not constrictive if you approach it with an open mind. You need to be constantly in a receptive mode to explore and rediscover tradition. Fortunately, the audience is becoming tolerant to fresh tweaks while the format of the art itself allows you to step away from the formula. I am currently training in Attakalari to add to my stock of movements. As the boundaries of creativity are shrinking, it is essential today to perceive the classical in the context of modern, folk, martial and other genres.
My parents Daksha Seth and Devissaro, renowned names in the field of contemporary dance, were too liberal to tell me what I should or should not do. In fact I was initiated into the art at 13, which is very late by dance standards. It took some time for me to become conscious of how much I enjoyed dancing and later I happily allowed it to take over my life. Once I knew my future lay in mime and movement, I realised it was not easy to find one’s feet in this competitive world. In the West, the field of art is more organised and to get funding is not very difficult. In India, most people are not willing to buy tickets to watch a dance performance. Hence, the not-so-commercial arts are suffering and the artistes too. Parents do not encourage children to make a career in music or dance. So we do not have the next generation of artistes to take the culture forward.
Till you are being trained in the art form, you do not worry about seeking opportunities and creating a ‘solo space’. I have been trained in Kalakshetra, where you discover art through various aspects. It’s as much a physical as an emotional experience. But I have now reached a stage where I want to explore the form to present it in my individualistic way. I also see the need to make a name for myself and not just be known as the well-known Balagopal’s (of Kalakshetra) daughter. Dance is a collaborative process that encompasses several arts and crafts. I hope to gain the creative energy to fathom its strength and meet audience expectations to be able to strike a perfect balance.
I’ve always considered a career for myself outside of the arts as an ‘extra-curricular activity’! I never really had to ‘pursue’ dancing as I belong to a family of dancers (daughter of M.V. Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi). It is an indispensible part of my life. Being in the arts is so fulfilling that one forgets the distinction between dream and reality, the teacher and the taught, the performer and the viewer. One needn’t necessarily have to be an artiste to experience the magic of becoming one with the art. All one needs to do is to make it a small part of their life. That’s what we are attempting to do through our organization ‘Rasoham...spread the magic’.