Are We Forgetting Our Classical Dances?

Posted on February 14, 2010 in Culture-Vulture

Manali Misra:

The tradition of classical dance and music dates back thousands of years in India. The world famous dance forms originated and developed in India like Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Odissi and Mohiniattam have their individual history and importance. There was a time when dance was supposed to have a divine association with the people and the artists were revered. Dance has also passed the mythological stories from generation to generation. But, this no longer holds importance in today’s modern era where western dance and pop music are prevalent.

All the classical dance forms are now considered obsolete and boring, especially by the younger generation. Can we recall any contemporary classical dancer’s name? Possibly, only a handful of us can. Thus, we are already taking steps forward to forget our classical dances and if the present situation continues, ultimately classical dances will vanish away (and maybe pick up in the west).

Many factors led to the ignorance of our precious heritage. The western style dance appears to be cool so it appeals to the youngsters. Most of us do not want to try a challenging dance form like the classical dances.

Another factor can be the commercialization of the various dance forms. Fewer men look at these dance forms as divine and those who try to learn are looked down upon as classical dances are not hep. Some one has aptly remarked, “Strangely students of the performing arts are neglected; actually they have as little access to performers, except their teachers, as anybody else.

At a very basic level, there is no difference between music and dance or the various disciplines within. They are all forms of cultural expression. We need to give the next generation more access, more exposure so that it adds to their growth; not just as performers but as people.”

How many of us actually want a classical dance performance in any event? We want entertainment value, which we feel is not present in classical dance forms. Classical dance does not seem interesting to us because we never try to understand it. Every action has a meaning. We fail to realise the fact that indeed the most successful dancers and musicians have to undergo a training of classical dance too.

Only the young generation can carry our heritage of classical dance forward. We should try our best to preserve the original dance forms and let the heritage prevail. People should not only be made to see these dances, but must also be introduced to various facets of the particular dance form, like how and when was it formed, it’s existence, etc. This might create curiosity.

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