Friday Review

Raising the bar

Documenting dance Bathina Vikram Goud.  

What distinguishes the talented Kuchipudi exponent and theatre personality Bathina Vikram Goud, founder and president of Nataraj Music and Dance Academy, Visakhapatnam, from his fellow dancers is his deep concern for preservation of the Indian classical art and culture and a strong empathy for those talented dancers, young and old, who seldom get a chance to showcase their abilities. It is this quality that turned him a pioneer in organising a large number of dance festivals in Visakhapatnam and outside at the cost of his career as a performer.

Barely 40, the International Dance Congress Awardee ( for dance promotion) promotes and propagates the Indian ethos with a team of highly efficient and dedicated professionals from different walks of life, through festivals and workshops in various Indian classical and folk dance forms involving eminent dancers from across the world.

Excerpts from an interview:

From being a dancer and a theatre person, what made you become organiser of such a broad spectrum of festivals?

I learnt dance as a child and had lot of encouragement from my father. When I completed my M.A. in Kuchipudi from the Andhra University, I felt that as a performer only my family and I will enjoy and be happy. I did social and modern plays, Greek plays and mythological theatre professionally. Now I do theatre in dance. That time I had seen a vacuum in the field of Indian classical dance mainly in Andhra Pradesh. We did not have any dance festivals, private or Government, or any platforms like those in Tamil Nadu and Odisha. In 2008, I immediately planned the Vyshaki Nrityotsav, only for thetorchbearers and the top dancers, named after –Visakhapatnam’s Lord Vyshakeswara. I started the festival in Visakhapatnam only. Fortunately, the Vizag people and dance community encouraged me a lot. That’s why dancers with Padmabhushan, Padmashri and SNA awardees performed in Vyshaki Nrityotsav.

After that I started Bharath Nrityotsav exclusively for the NRIs and foreigners. Satyabhama is for upcoming artists. So many dancers have learnt our dance forms in India and abroad and they want a platform to perform at the land of its birth.

Elaborate the difference between their standard and their Indian counterparts?

I found that NRIs and foreigners are more dedicated to the art forms. There is no difference in teaching, but only in learning because in India students are not taking it seriously. Abroad, they concentrate and practice thoroughly thereby learning more. In India dancers are going in for fusion or contemporary music, TV shows and Bollywood and when they come back to classical dance they make a mixture. That’s why the original form is suffering. Only few dance forms are still adhering to the original. In the 36th chapter of Bharatmuni’s “Natya Shastra” it is mentioned that according to your circumstances and "kala", you can mould but only according to the Shastra.

What are the advantages of multiple festivals...

I organise eight festivals a year. My intention is to give a platform to both professional and emerging artistes so that they can compare their standards with each other and identify their faults. If a young girl performs with Padma Bhushan Saroja Vaidyanathan or any established dancer, she feels – ‘Yes, I am performing with a legend.’ And is inspired by them and automatically learns more and more.

Don’t young artistes become overconfident?

No. Overconfidence leads to downfall. If they take this opportunity as an inspiration then automatically they will at least try to reach their goal. That’s why I mix all the established and emerging dancers together so that they know their standards. Otherwise they sit and watch and hardly learn anything. Every year I conduct the Jatish Roaming National Dance Festival and travel to Chennai, Bangalore, New Delhi, Hyderabad. I find that 99 per cent of the dance teachers or their students don’t attend the performances of others. There is no support and that is the main problem. I wonder why. Earlier the legendary dancers like Rukmini Devi performed then Vempati Sir would also go to see. In Bharatanatyam we still find this support of watching each others performances. If they watch the performances of others they would know the right style – dos and don’ts. Today many teachers are insecure because if their students watch top class performances then they would ask many questions which the teachers may not know. That’s why the dance culture is getting polluted. The main problem is that we don’t have full documentation. Also there is no protection for folk artists .

Are you going in for documentation?

Yes, mainly Kuchipudi through the magazine which I started. It will have dance, music, theatre and literature – all four elements. I want it to go forever! In Kuchipudi the main drawback is that we don’t have that much of documentation because of illiteracy.

Some gurus didn’t allow to document much. So we don’t have any prescribed books on Kuchipudi. That’s why everybody is doing their own styles. The choreography here is also typical of Vempati Sir.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 2:52:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/Raising-the-bar/article14564148.ece

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