The need to find the right dance teacher

It is important for young aspirants to learn the art in a methodical and disciplined manner.

Updated - April 26, 2024 12:41 pm IST

Published - April 23, 2024 01:14 pm IST

Young learners in a dance class.

Young learners in a dance class.

Sahitya, sangeeta kala viheenaha sakshat pashuhu, pucha vishanaha heenaha

It means that a human life without an initiation into literature, music or any art is akin to a cow without horns and tail. Hence every human being is entitled to learn and practise the arts without which life loses its meaning. Having said this, one has to understand the difference between casual association with art and deep engagement with it.

Classicism is about methodical and disciplinary approach. Unfortunately, these values are being manipulated for ease of learning and popularity. This is a disheartening trend, which goes unchecked. We need to put in place a safety regulation for training in arts to ensure the genuineness of the trainee.

Since Bharatanatyam is my field, I will talk about it. I have coined the term ‘art-quacks’ to refer to those so-called teacher, who are manipulating the system to their advantage. In the process, they are permanently damaging the perspective of the learners. Dance needs both physical and mental conditioning and the ‘art-quacks’ definitely cannot impart.

When you take the first steps in dance let it be at an established school.

When you take the first steps in dance let it be at an established school. | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

Both people and veteran artistes and scholars can help curb this menace. Firstly, young enthusiasts rarely have a good understanding of what a mentor should be like. Their expectations are akin to what a tuition teacher or hobby class can provide. They should not get carried away with the promises of performance opportunities. Parents and children should realise that substandard learning cannot take them far. The same effort that they put in while selecting the school for education should be made when selecting the dance school. A little bit of homework could do good.

The revered Guru Kalyanasundaram teaching his students at Sri Rajarajeswari Bharatha Natyam Kala Mandir in Mumbai.

The revered Guru Kalyanasundaram teaching his students at Sri Rajarajeswari Bharatha Natyam Kala Mandir in Mumbai. | Photo Credit: FARIHA FAROOQUI

When a learner applies for Central or State scholarships and Doordarshan auditions and recordings, he or she will understand more than ever the significance of being trained by a knowledgeable guru.

The concept of salanga pujai or arangetram are not what they were in the past. What is the value of a formal debut in today’s times when digital platform offers an easy access. Yet, arangetrams are being conducted with immense fanfare. Huge expenses, including guru dakshina are incurred by parents. The great nattuvanars of yesteryear intensely trained a few talented and promising sishyas, whose patronage was their sole source of income.

The ‘art-quacks’ also indulge in creative plagiarism. They have no qualms about reproducing well-researched and aesthetically formulated compositions and choreographies. A reason why many well-known artistes do not want their work to be made visible on social media. We need a tighter copyright act.

Mediocrity has no space in classicism, whether it is in teaching, performing or in promoting the arts and artistes. It has to be understood that if authentic art has to thrive, we need to rid it of quacks.

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