KOCHI: Well-known scholars and teachers of dance and music have decried the deterioration in standards of the State Schools Youth Festival.
A seminar, organised by the Kerala Fine Arts Society at the Fine Arts Hall on the occasion of the 46th State Schools Kalotsavam, drew attention to the erosion in aesthetic qualities of the cultural forms presented at the school youth festivals and discussed the pros and cons of the youth festival culture.
Dance and music scholar C.P. Unnikrishnan, who presented the topic, said that the culture of rampant competition and rivalry between participants, parents and teachers had caused a lot of damage in the sociological aspect.
"At the same time, there are schools, especially from rural areas, who view the festival without much sense of competition and as an occasion for experiencing newer forms of cultural performances."
In this context, he said, it was also very difficult to separate what was good and bad regarding the youth festival culture.
However, he pointed out that the practice of taking legal steps to solve disputes regarding the awarding of prizes in the youth festival was not a good system.
Dance researcher and teacher Nirmala Paniker said that there should be steps to locate flaws in the present system of youth festivals and solve them, instead of criticising the whole event as such.
She pointed out that even with all its defects, youth festivals had helped in the survival of many languishing art forms. Even many of the new `varnam-s' in mohiniyattam were composed under the influence of the youth festivals, she said.
Sreekumari Ramachandran, writer and executive committee member of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, said that the selection of judges for the youth festivals should be done carefully as a first step to avoid criticism and complaints.
She was of the opinion that only a spirit of competition could ensure good performance at such events.
Kalamandalam Gopinath, dance teacher, said that the responsibility for the deterioration of the youth festivals was with the Government.
He said that the presence of dance teachers were marginal even at the workshop held for restructuring the festival manuals a few months back.
He demanded that an examination in theory also should be conducted to ensure that candidates had the necessary information and knowledge on the forms, which they performed.
Ottan Thullal artist Kalamandalam Prabhakaran and poet R.K. Damodaran also spoke.