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Gross insult to art
- Nrithya Jagannathan, Chennai

January 8, 2006

I wish to place on record a shocking incident that occurred at my performance for the Indian Fine Arts Society. I would like to make this incident known to members of the dancing community at large because what happened is an insult to art, and due steps need to be taken to prevent such ridiculous behaviour on the part of sabhas.

Have you ever heard of a sabha secretary walking onto the stage and pulling the microphone from the nattuvanar right in the midst of a dance program when the artiste is performing, and speaking, in spite of the guru and musicians specifically telling him that it would take ten more minutes for the performance to conclude? And such ridiculous and atrocious behaviour for the simple reason that the president of the sabha wanted to leave, and so they had to give the artiste the memento.

Believe me, shocking as it seems, this actually happened. I am Nrithya Jagannathan, a senior disciple of Guru Krishnakumari Narendran. I performed on January 2, 2006 under the auspices of The Indian Fine Arts Society at Chennai. In the second half of the recital, my guru had specifically announced that we would be presenting three selected kritis choreographed in a specific sequence one after the other without a break. In spite of this announcement, the secretary of the sabha in question had the audacity to disrupt the program with scant respect to the artistes, to the art or to the audience. Honestly, when I saw the urgency with which he bulldozed his way on to the stage, I thought he was going to make an announcement about some serious calamity or disaster. You can imagine our feelings when the man casually announced that he wanted to give me the memento.

This was in such bad taste and only goes to reflect the utter lack of basic etiquette on the part of certain so-called arts promoters. And what is worse, such treatment comes not from a fledgling sabha but a well-known sabha that has been hosting such art festivals for over thirty years. We stopped the program abruptly following the sabha secretary's interruption. My guru announced that this sequence that had been choreographed with such care and effort, would be concluded not then but at my next performance on the 8th of January under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts in Chennai. She apologised to the audience but emphasised that when once the flow of the artiste, musicians and the audience had been cut in such a crude manner, to resume the performance would be a mockery.

What was heartening was the overwhelming reaction of the audience who stood up and clapped when my guru made this announcement. They were extremely disappointed, but quick to make their displeasure known to the sabha secretary immediately. At the same time, they gave us their wholehearted support as artistes approving fully our decision to stop the program adding that they would definitely make it a point to attend the show on 8th January.

Is this what a sabha does in the name of promoting art? Focusing only on the commercial viabilities of organising performances, such sabhas demean not just artistes but the art as well. When will such sabhas and their office bearers realise that artistes perform for the sheer joy of dancing and for the exhilaration that comes from taking their audience with them on a journey into myriad emotions? We do not perform for that mounted silver shield that they give us. Even though such arts promoters are commericialising the art, they seem to forget that we artistes respect the inherent divinity of the art form and dance for the sheer experience of this art.

I feel strongly that this is an insult to the entire artiste community. It is such a shame that such things happen in the name of promoting the arts and the reason I am making this known to all of you is that this must be the last time an arts promoter takes it as his prerogative to insult not just artistes but the art itself.

I trust I have the support of artistes like you on this.

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