UTSAVAM 2020 Panel discussion Dance

Dialogue on the future of dance forms

Conversations veered around preserving traditional art forms

Held at two of Chennai’s most aesthetic spaces, Kalakshetra Foundation and DaksinaChitra Heritage Museum, ‘Utsavam 2020’ served as a platform to discuss the evolution of traditional arts along with a series of performances.

This fifth edition of DakshinaChitra's annual music and dance festival was held, from March 6-8.

Discussing the future of Villupattu and Harikatha, Bharathi Thirumagan and Vishaka Hari highlighted the scope of social media platforms as performance spaces. This also meant that the artistes have to work on newer content, to avoid repetition. However, one must know the difference in the impact between number of views online and a regular live audience.

In another session, Hanne M. de Bruin (founder Kattaikkuttu Sangam and Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam) pointed out that traditional styles are facing a dwindling number of teachers, who could pass them on. . An interesting point Thirumagan made was that each individual interprets the art form in his/her own way, which is the first step towards sustaining the art. Both Bharathi Thirumagan and Vishaka Hari held an optimistic view regarding the future of their forms.

Need to innovate

Conversations on the future also brought up the necessity for innovation and reorienting perspectives. Anita Ratnam and Gita Wolf (Tara Books) threw light on their initiatives to break homogeneity and bring a sense of variety to art and books. “We have a very romantic idea of tradition as something in the past. It is crucial to innovate and experiment with formats of consumption and presentation,” expressed Wolf. Learning multiple art forms also serves as an initial scaffolding, different vocabularies upon which improvisation can be applied.

When innovation and tradition meet, community empowerment and artistic identity emerge. Black Boys, a dynamic 19 member Gaana singers and Tamil rappers from North Madras created an impact. With poignant songs such as ‘Do something, edhachum pannu’ and ‘Vyasarpadi, nanga anba vandu anaipom,’ this group creates music based on their experiences to voice thought-provoking social messages.

The young storytellers presented The Magic Horse aka Maayakkutirai, performed and directed by Kattaikkuttu artistes of Kattaikuttu Sangam from Kanchipuram. A noteworthy segment of this performance was the artistic identity borne by young performers.

The importance of adapting to one's environment comes with practice and experience. How does one future-proof the voice in light of this? Dr. Prakash Boominathan elaborated on the uniqueness of the singing voice and vocal health.

In an engaging and informative session, he discussed developing a fitness and health regimen that has the capacity to adapt and perceive changing biological, emotional and social needs of a person in his/her chosen vocation. He stressed upon hydration, ample sleep, diet, physical and mental fitness and sensitivity to overcome general and vocal fatigue.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 7:20:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/dialogue-on-the-future-of-dance-reforms/article31049159.ece

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