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Seasonal jitters!
- Priya Raman, Hyderabad

January 22, 2011

(The article has been published in the January edition of 'Ananya Kala Sinchana' brought out by 'Ananya' in Bangalore.)

It is that time of the year where the dance and music community wants to perform as much as possible, wherever and whenever possible! It is that time when there is a mad rush of Non-Resident Indians flying home and camping and dancing for months together. It's ‘The Season' and of course I am referring to Chennai, since no other metro in India experiences this. Bangalore wears its culture all through the year either big or small, Delhi has its own imprint of standard classicality, Kerala welcomes artistes at any time of the year, Hyderabad is a convention centre and does not need a season and Mumbai attracts less anyways!

There can be two questions - Why so? or Why not so? "Season Rush" can be substantiated by the fact that it creates a time frame for artistes to meet, bond, learn and watch several performances during a stipulated period of time. It proves a fruitful visit for the NRI's to carry all their work done over a year and maximize it through multiple appearances. This being a favorable and highly appreciated concept, why don't the other metros adopt it? After all, in dance it is the more the merrier! Artistes would spread themselves instead of clustering at one point and audiences across the county would be exposed to art evenly. Opportunities would be multiplied in the ratio of artistes; rather, the local ones would stand a fair chance. Tourists visiting the country would be benefitted of both cultural and heritage tours.

The counter view also gives a justifiable picture. Why should we differentiate and put a forte in the name of a season? Dance can be celebrated even without tags. Having a season only stuffs everything often for the sake of it. There inevitably develops an overdose of art which even an art connoisseur feels a hitch to digest, leave alone the lay man. Unnecessary competition gives way to tampered quality and standards for recognition go haywire. Camps are formed, mostly the mutual admiration ones, the financially strong get the befalling break and the rest are pushed against the wall. Performance in the season becomes an unwarranted stamp for fame.

Chennai's culture of paying sabhas to perform might just curb the spirit of the talented due to lack of financial necessities. An uninitiated audience (especially foreigners) would develop a mind blog towards culture and its ways, they not being acquainted to multiple facets.

Finally there exists a puzzle, why this complexity, why this foggy situation? Dancing is joy and should remain so. Season opportunities could be maximized but cannot be slotted as the be all and end all. The weight of an artiste should not be directly proportionate to his/her stand in Chennai alone! Dance is dance anywhere. So why get into seasonal or any other jitters!

Priya Raman is a Bharatanatyam dancer, who writes on dance and dance related issues in Ananya's monthly magazine.

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