by Ruben, Bangalore 

June 2002

On Monday 29th April 2002, as every year since 1982, World Dance Day is celebrated the world over by CID.  The main purpose of the dance day events is to attract the attentions of the wider public to the art of dance. Since 2000, Shambhavi School of Dance is hosting a seminar and festival billed as “Future of Dance” at the global level, inviting dancers, scholars, critics, dance gurus and audiences from all over, to dedicate a day for bettering the future of dance, dance lovers and the dance community as a whole. 

We have such a rich culture and heritage.  Our classical dancers have enthralled art lovers the world over, but our own younger generation seems to be drawn towards Western culture.  This has led to a dearth of quality performances and performers, expressed the city based Kuchipudi dancer Vyjayanthi Kashi. She thought it was time to change these notions and make dance reachable to ordinary people, make them aware of the amount of dedication and perseverance dance demands, where the body has to move, “Following the scientific principles laid down in Natyashastra”. Dance has always had a select audience, and it is the responsibility of the dancers, gurus, and the audience to help reach our art forms to the younger generation. 

Some of the questions posed by Artistic Director Vyjayanthi Kashi were: 
1) Dance which created unforgettable and unexplainable pleasure for the devathas, danavas, kings, scholars and the common mass in the earlier times… Is it not applicable for the generation of today? 

2) In comparison to the increase in the number of Gurus, institutions and dancers, the number of members in the audience for the programs is dwindling. What could the reasons be? 

3) How to make the art and its values reach the masses… is it not the need of  the day? 

4) The importance of dance for the upliftment of the society. 

5) The role of the Government / private organizers / sponsors in providing financial 
assistance in preserving and promoting Arts is of utmost importance. In comparison to the funds being diverted for Fashion shows, Rock Music and Jazz shows, the support for traditional Arts is negligible. Who is to blame? The Art? The artist? Or the presentations? 

6) Ways and means to provide job security to artists who dedicate their lives for art and    its importance in terms of creativity and continuation of culture. 

7) The importance of dance, drama and music as a part of the education 

8) The role of an artist in the society. 

The participants included Korada Narasimha Rao, Sundari Santhanam, Prof. George S. Paul, Vyjayanthi Kashi in the seminar sessions followed by Odissi performance by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir and group from Bhubaneshwar, Changing Trends by the host team and Coming Together presented by Ethno Techno Group from Sweden. 

The seminar began with Vyjayanthi Kashi reading a quote of Martha Graham, ‘The future of dance lies not alone in the hands of the dancer, it is equally in the hands of the public.  The spark that electrifies the performance into life cannot take place no matter how brilliant the action behind the foot lights unless the audience is also alive’. 

As a performer, she suggested a few tips to the performers on how to improve the quality of performance. 
1. Reach out to your audience. 
2. Never underestimate your audience. 
3. Never cheat either yourself or your audience. 
4. Transport yourself to the beautiful world of imagination. 
5. Concentrate on the inner vision that is taking shape in your mind. 
6. Make art related to every person. 
7. Consider your audience your god. 

Senior eminent Kuchipudi guru and performer, Guru Korada Narasimha Rao gave his 
Upadesha followed by an emotional demonstration, a piece from “Prahalada 
Charitam”. Dancers have to be united and have to first overcome ego problems and need to understand problems facing their art. He said dance is divine and brings eternal joy and it helps one to become one with God.  One needs to bathe in Rasa and forget oneself. Artists must concentrate on making their presentations visually apt and pleasing. 

Next was Sundari Santhanam, a senior disciple of Padma Subrahmanyam. She concentrated on the importance of a Guru Shishya Parampara. Unless the student has a strong training, she cannot become a quality performer.  Probably lack of quality performances has resulted in empty halls. Hence it is the duty of a parent to get the right Guru, and the equal responsibility of the Guru and the student to present quality performances, to attract the class and the mass. She then went on to demonstrate the various karanas and abhinaya in dance. A sound knowledge of these aspects of dance she said would go a long way in presenting quality performances and help one to acquire a good posture, physique and health essential for dancers. 

Prof G.S. Paul, art critic from Trichur, said that the art tradition could be kept alive only in rural areas. Developing critically appreciative audiences is very important today.  Today, we do not have a trained audience of both art critics and public, who will take one at one’s own valuation.  New creativity is judged in terms of old judgments made, within the limitations of narrow, often closed academic minds. 

The evening program was inaugurated by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir and group from Bhubaneshwar. The group presented Surya Vandanam, Dashawataram, Ashtapadi and concluded their recital with Moksha. The choreography, the dance, costumes and synchronization were the cynosure of all eyes. The fluid movements and neatly etched bhangis were a vision of neat and uncluttered grace. The Moksha item took the gathering into a trance. 

Changing Trends presented by the host group enthralled the audience.  Dancing to the CD music, using stage props, well designed costumes and good lighting, the students did their guru Vyjayanthi Kashi proud.  The presentation of the two pieces, Religions and Mother Earth with quotes of Mahatma Gandhi, “The essence of all religion is one, only their approaches are different” was relevant and apt. The imaginative choreography of the earth and its movement and description of nature was brilliant and rich in dance language. 

The World Day Celebration concluded at Ravindra Kalakshetra on 29th April 2002, with fusion music by Mr. Niklas Holmberg from Sweden.  A fusion of today’s high-tech Western music and the timeless characteristic sound of North and South Indian Classical Music.  Accompanied by Deepu K Nair on vocal and violin and Rajendra Nakod on tabla. They had to cut short their performance, due to time constraints.  Though short, it was a good attempt to come together with correct pitch, pointed laya and sensitive variations of volume. 

The debate was on why classical dance no longer holds the allure it once commanded, is TV to blame?  Organised by Vyjayanthi Kashi to create an awareness of the importance of dance and dancers was a worthy attempt. The real spirit of the World Dance Day was evoked with a mission to introduce youngsters to dance when Vyjayanthi Kashi announced a weeklong free Kuchipudi workshop and Dance as Healing Therapy workshop at her institute. 

The event was supported by South Central Zone Cultural Central and East Zone Cultural Central.