Development Trends in the UK
I have had the privilege to witness some dance performances in the UK, read dance magazines and go through many dance pamphlets and publicity materials which most of the times have shocked me, and, at times, amused me.
It’s remarkable to see the kind of importance and status dance gets in the UK. Dance here is perceived as a very serious art where not just the performance but the publicity and the funding ideas are given prime importance. However, it’s unfortunate to observe the trend today, where the packaging, marketing and the concepts to sell the dance have become more essential than the dance itself.
The funding bodies/agencies today dictate the dance scene in the UK. Huge grants are given based on the novelty of the production which means only innovative work gets funded. The choreographer hence creates a production which will appeal to the funding bodies. Creation does not happen due to inspiration or for the sheer joy of creating which in itself defeats the whole purpose of creation.
The need to create innovative work in order to stay in favour with these agencies had led to a peculiar trend in the UK. I witnessed a performance in which the dancer literally had a shower and bath on stage! I have read an article wherein the musician was made to sing hanging upside down! I have seen pictures, where the dancer though striking a beautiful Bharatanatyam pose, is in his brief which makes you wonder if the photograph is to promote the dancer or the brief he is wearing!!!
Also, the dance here is confined only to angika. The satvika which is the main essence of Indian dance has been taken away which, to me, makes dance look like a body with only its shadow and the soul somewhere else. In the name of dnce being intellectually stimulating, the choreographer takes away the pure joy of dancing.
Hence it does not surprise me that most youngsters take to Hindi-film inspired dancing as they feel the need for a medium to let go and express their joy for dancing.
As dancers we wonder where the quality differentiation has gone! Dance bereft of fun and ripped of its emotion is the dance that gets accepted in the UK???
Pay to Perform / Perform for Free?
Bangalore dancer, based in Mumbai, Ranjani Ganesan Ramesh shared with Drishti the mail she received from an organization in Chennai, asking her to pay for performing at their dance festival.
We feel this is a serious issue and thank Ranjani for coming out boldly about it. Every time we interview or talk to artists, a majority of them (talented, reputed artists) talk about how difficult it is to make a living solely as an artist. Even in this issue both Lalitha Srinivasan, a senior guru and Sathyanarayan Raju, a popular performing artist, mention how tough it is to earn one’s livelihood through dance though being a good dancer is a full-time occupation. There are some artists who are doing quite well – besides being skilled in their art, they have good marketing skills or they are supported by people with such skills.
Can an artist be asked to pay to perform?
Can an artist be asked to perform for free?
Readers are invited to give us their opinion on the questions posed – we need a debate about this among artists and patrons and connoisseurs of art today.
They can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be featuring this debate in depth in the next issue of Drishti.