Bharatanatyam danseuse and 2007 Padma Shri recipient Geeta Chandran feels that dance can become a lonely journey, and World Dance Day, which falls on Sunday, is a way for fellow dancers to tell each other: 'Hey! Let's hold onto the tradition'.
Chandran, whose organisation Natya Vriksha is celebrating the day with lectures, workshops and recitals at the India International Centre (IIC) till Sunday, started her voyage in Bharatanatyam when she was just five.
The 2016 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner feels that even though Unesco had designated the WDD in 1982, in India, it had not caught the public imagination fifteen years prior.
"To me the biggest advantage to marking the day is a shout-out to young dancers that they are not alone... that there is a larger dance community that is undergoing similar trials and tribulations.
"Dance can become a lonely journey with an extremely long gestation period and the path is riddled with financial uncertainty and insecurities. So, on this day we sort of tell each other: hey, let's hold on to it," the 57-year-old classical dancer told IANS over email.
Speaking about her guru Swarna Saraswathi, Chandran said that performance was never the end goal or preferred outcome of her learning. "She brought alive to me music, philosophy and rasa."
Also an accomplished Carnatic music vocalist, she added that a wide range of dance-related activities -- performing, teaching, conducting, singing, collaborating, organising, writing and speaking -- to new youth audiences is her personal strategy to fulfilment.
Chandran terms today as the sunrise period for classical dance.
"The freedom to experiment, the technologies one can command, the finances one can leverage, make this a very exciting period to be a classical dancer. Innumerable young dancers are creating fabulous dance orbits for themselves," she said.
Chandran, although a widely-recognised dancer, says very modestly that good daily sweat is the best recognition of being a dancer.
"I always remember what my guru K.N. Dakshinamurti told me: If you don't dance-practice for even a day, your body knows. If you don't dance-practice for two days, your accompanying musicians know. And if you don't dance-practice for three days, the audience will know. So that is how unrelenting this art form is."
Now a guru to a host of young dancers, she is also vocal about many social causes, the most recent one being a campaign on clean toilets. Her slogan? "You have the right to a clean toilet, but the person after you has an equal right to a clean toilet."
Chandran also distanced herself from a recent joint statement by over 900 artistes, which endorses voting the ruling government back into power.
"I feel that as artists we should be linked to issues and not to political parties and manifesto agendas," she opined when asked about the issue.
Finally, the author of "So Many Journeys", a collection of her writings, shared that arts are the pinnacle of humankind's achievements and everyone needs to find their oxygen in them.
"When Winston Churchill was being pressured to cut funding for the arts during World War II, he is supposed to have said: Then what are we fighting for?"
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at email@example.com)
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