This December, arts internship is the new buzzword. Payal Chhabria talks to a few youngsters who’ve been there and done that…

We are inspired by the Gurukul system, if I may say so,” says 23-year-old Shweta Prachande, a classical dancer and a student of danseuse Priyadarsini Govind.

“It is an unsaid, understood agreement of sorts between a teacher and a student that when a teacher requires support in any endeavour the student must be at her disposal.” This concept is, perhaps, what has come to be known as an arts’ internship.

Time to evolve

By striking a tight, yet efficient, balance between their own rehearsals and helping their guru curate the Natya Kala Conference between December 26 and 31 at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, this year, Shweta and Sukanya Kumar have gone one step ahead of their artistic pursuits.

“I feel that merely learning the art and performing is not enough,” says Sukanya, “My teacher constantly says one needs to evolve as a person to evolve as an artiste; helping Priya aunty organise this event has given me the opportunity to put her teaching into practice.”

Ramya Kannan, a 23-year-old Carnatic vocalist, has been a regular in this process since 2008. Actively involved in organising Svanubhava for the last four years and currently shouldering the responsibility of treasurer, Youth Association for Classical Music, has convinced her that the idea is worth it.

“Honestly, it is a very humbling experience,” she says, “However it takes a lot of your time, effort and demands compromises of some sort, now and then. But it enhances your learning as an artiste and gives you the satisfaction of having participated and contributed in the big picture, even if in a small way.”

The benefits are that one gains a great network of people, enhances experience as an artiste and is an ongoing process to hone skills beyond the art.

But, how do youngsters apply for and avail these internships? “In the world of art, commercialism is not accepted,” says Shweta, “We don’t want to give the process a commercial tag. We look at it as a gift that we give our gurus. It is a personal association. However, it is no different from another internship. We also have our programme managers, content writers, sound technicians and others. Just that, in this side of the world, the process doesn’t have a name of its own.”

On the job training

Does arts internship help the arts itself? Nivedita Ganeshram, Bharatnatyam dancer and a student of Anita Guha, says, “Performing on stage is relatively easier than putting together a series of elements to make that performance happen. A hands-on experience at the activities behind the screen, I feel, makes you a better dancer. You automatically push yourself to go that extra mile in putting forth your best.”

This December, dancers will design, singers will organise and musicians will report. Amid sheets of musical notes will be checklists and budget plans; amid dance costumes will be boxes of invites and return gifts. Sukanya says, “I haven’t missed the Natya Kala Conference in the last three years since I moved to Chennai. This year, I’m going to be a part of it. Isn’t that amazing?” It sure is.