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Shell shocked
- Savitri Ganesan, Bangalore

November 3, 2006

We are happy to share the good news that Arudhra Festival has completed 10 successful years. We had over 32 different artists who presented different styles of Indian classical dance over three days on 28th, 29th and 30th Oct in Bangalore. However, we as organisers were shell shocked and hurt at the turn of events on the concluding day of Arudhra.

We would like to bring to your notice about the misbehaviour on the part of a budding dancer who walked out of the festival without regretting the fact that she turned up for a 7.30 show (to commence) at 8.00pm, while some of her troupe members entered the auditorium at 7.15 sans makeup.

We had to reschedule even the first concert of the evening since these artists had not arrived. So we delayed the starting of the show by half hour and the day's show started at 7pm. Instead of feeling bad about having put the organisers and the audience to an inconvenient situation by coming late, the budding dancer further created a scene and left without performing rather arrogantly! Anger can blind anybody's wisdom, and after using abusive language at the organisers almost leading to a fist fight, the artist didn't even realise that along with her spouse she even spoke rather rudely to a senior artist who was present there.

Unfortunately even as another senior artist who was to perform with this budding dancer was keen to perform, was left helpless because this upcoming artist abruptly left the venue.

Is it not natural for a performer to reach the auditorium a good 2 hours before the show to warm up and prepare for the show? It shows the unprofessional attitude and lack of commitment on the part of this artist.

The audience was packed; people were standing all the way till the main door. The limitation of the auditorium- one has to enter green rooms only through the stage. This was made clear to all artists well in advance, with instructions that all artists are requested to be present in the auditorium a good one and half hours before their show to co-ordinate with technicians if they wish to also. Even on the day of the performance I have personally requested Anuradha Vikranth to reach by 6pm. Over the three days some 32 artists have performed, all of them professionals who were present in the auditorium at 4pm, irrespective of their time slot whether 6.30 or 7.30. Shobana Bhalchandra with her troupe reached Bangalore on 29th when her train didn't even arrive at the platform till 2am in Chennai. They got drenched while waiting at the station, but commendable commitment and dedication made her arrive for the show - talks of professionalism.

Traffic conditions are quite unpredictable in all cities. Can that be given as an excuse? For an artist residing locally?

First of all coming so late, then instead of apologising creating a scene! Great artists like Shivaji Ganesan, Rajnikanth, Parveen Sultana, M S.Subbalakshmi, Vempatti Chinnasatyam, Dhananjayans, to name a few have all been sticklers of time. They would be present at the shoot or venue a good two hours before, why even Rukmini Devi herself was such an adherer to time. It shows the dedication of an artist, no wonder they were all what they were.

But we are very grateful to two senior artists who were present there for their magnanimous attitude and the support which was extended by them. Odissi exponent Sharmila Mukherjee who had just finished her performance, at our request immediately presented a beautiful number on Lord Ganapathi. Yet another senior artist Ranjani Ganesan Ramesh who had come as an audience, presented a Shivashtapadi though she was not in the traditional dance costume, and together they concluded with 'Moksha,' which was an impromptu performance. The audience felt elevated and enjoyed a feast of Odissi-Bharatanatyam jugalbandi. Our sincere thanks to both these artists.

Art is greater than any artist, and no artist can survive without patrons. In a platform where great stalwarts have performed, such arrogant budding artists should not be invited to perform is the lesson we learnt from this incident. Artists, who respect art, audience and more than anything keep up time, are bound to achieve.

Savitri Ganesan is a Trustee of Ponnambalam Academy of Dance and Music that organizes Arudra Dance Festival.

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