Marketing for Dance Jathre 2011
- Sindhoor Pangal, Bangalore

January 29, 2011

When I gave up my plush corporate job a year ago, I did not know much about what I would do next, except that it would have to be something to do with my passion - dance. When Vyjayanthi Kashi invited me to head marketing for Dance Jathre 2011 team, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to go beyond being a performing artist and to actually combine my marketing skills with my passion. Today I recount the wonderful journey that this has been, starting from the preparation to culmination of this novel event.

The first thing that struck me as I started work was Kashi's dedication, nay devotion, to dance. She was prepared to power through every hurdle with a single goal in mind - "Come what may, Dance Jathre 2011 will happen and will be a success." I cannot recount the number of times I had to call her with one bad news or the other, feeling rather desperate. But her will to just keep going was truly inspirational. I realized that to pull off an event like this, it takes more than just commitment. It takes the kind of devotion that is nothing short of spiritual.

This realization was followed by another, rather pleasant one- that a good cause with a strong leader easily attracts good support. One occasion was when we were at the Deccan Herald office. I went there, steeling myself to meeting with tough negotiators and rejection. I was speechless when we got all the support we sought and then some more. More importantly, we were met with warmth by the people at the office. They applauded and appreciated us for our efforts and were there for us all the way.
Massive Dance Jathre billboards dotted the city

dance competitions
for young aspiring dancers

Motivated by the support we were getting, I started systematically addressing all the aspects of marketing for the event. I identified the market size and the target audience, defined the marketing strategy and positioning, conducted photo shoots, designed marketing material and worked through fund raising. Due to severe dearth of marketing data in this area, I found myself spending significant time gathering data myself, through surveys, from newspapers and other sources. This lack of data, points to the need and the opportunity in the area of art marketing, and I can only hope that we will soon see more activity in this area.

Moving on from marketing, we started hashing out the content details of the event. Dance workshops were lined up. Stall owners were identified, to sell everything dance related, from jewellery to dance inspired paintings. The dancers' wall was set up, to give young dancers an opportunity to market themselves. Invitations were sent out to the best, senior most dancers in the country to perform at the event and to young dancers to participate in contests. We also added some new features like the Choreography Showcase. Talented dancers, bursting with creativity were invited to use this platform to gain an audience and appreciation for their choreography skills. The response we got overwhelmed me. I feel that there is no dearth of interest and talent in dance in this city. It is all just waiting to get tapped and we are entering interesting times of cultural awareness and expansion.

Soon the event was upon us. Each of the two days started with workshops and ended with performances of the highest caliber. We had Mohiniattam by Bharathi Shivaji and group, Odissi by Madhavi Mudgal and group, Kuchipudi by Vyjayanthi Kashi and group, Bharatanatyam by Rasika Academy, Ballet by Lewis Foundation, Contemporary by Nritarutya, Kathak by Maulik Shak, Ishira Parikh and group. We also gave an opportunity for the winning group of the choreography contest to present their piece during one of the evenings. The response was again overwhelming. The hall was overflowing and remained so from beginning to end. As I tried to squeeze in a few glimpses of the show, standing at the rear end of the hall, I made a note to myself: Next time, I should not forget to reserve a seat for myself. Performances of such high calibre, all packed in two evenings of cultural extravaganza, is a rare treat and one not to be missed at any cost.
Contemporary dance
Madhavi Mudgal and group
Dance enthusiasts were treated to more than just great performances by these artists. There was opportunity to interact with them and learn from them during workshops. Apart from the above mentioned artistes and styles, we also had workshops in Kalari by Rajan Mullarat, hip-hop by Richard Tholoor, belly dancing by Katie Holland and salsa by Lourd Vijay, Creative Dance Therapy by Tripura Kashyap and Sensing and Shaping movement by Rajyashree Ramesh. I expected people to drop in to attend one or two styles of their choice and then leave. I was overjoyed to see that most participants stayed for almost all the workshops. The people trying their skill at Salsa also stayed back for Odissi. The Bharatanatyam dancers were very curious about ballet. The artistic curiosity of the city was a pleasant revelation to me.

As head of marketing for the event, I spent time with each of the performers and workshop leaders to get their thoughts about the event. What they had to say warmed the cockles of my heart. Ishira Parik and Maulik Shah were overwhelmed at the intelligence and open mindedness of the Bangalore audience. Yana Lewis and Lourd Vijay were impressed with the range of styles covered in this event and the wholesomeness of the approach. But, they say that imitation is the best form of flattery and these compliments came from Bharati Shivaji and Sunil Kothari, who spoke of emulating this model in other parts of the country. The success of a great vision is not just in its execution, but in its ability to inspire. And when the likes of Bharati Shivaji express interest in emulating the concept, what could be a better pat on the back.

As I finally dropped off the last group of guests at their accommodation and walked home under the stars, I thought back about my journey. I had definitely enjoyed serving my art, this time not dancing myself, but facilitating dancers in many different ways. I had also met the greats of this field, seen their passion and dedication and learnt what it took to be a dancer. I take my hat off to Vyjayanthi Kashi in seeding such a unique concept and wish her vision inspires much more.

Sindhoor is a Bharatanatyam dancer from Bangalore. She has had 14 years of training and is currently learning under senior Guru Lalitha Srinivasan. She also writes about dance, does marketing for dance events and dance related organizations and gives talks on topics like synergies between dance and other areas, to institutions and corporate houses.