Decreasing audiences for classical dance performances

Anita R Ratnam says it as it is.

What can be done about this? Decreasing audiences for classical dance performances is a problem that plagues organizers/ dancers/ dance lovers alike.

While almost every kid I know learns some sort of dance, I’ve seldom seen these kids or their dance teachers/ dance institutions attend these professional shows-in the city that I live in and in some of the surrounding area cities too. Does this trend exist in your city too? How do children develop an interest for attending these shows if their teachers/ dance institutions don’t encourage or provide the required motivation to the next generation to attend these shows? Isn’t art appreciation a habit that needs to be cultivated? Shouldn’t teachers be encouraging their students to be inspired by the artistry of professional dancers? Training alone is not enough if you don’t experience the magic of watching a live performance. And of course as Anita Ji says people prefer to spend money on the food served rather than paying for the tickets to the show!!! What gives??? Why spend on teaching kids dance when you won’t support the men and women who are desperately trying to make a livelihood by dancing professionally??? What kind of message is this giving out to future dancers?

I’ve always thought of this as an important topic that needs to be discussed. A healthy society needs art to nurture its collective creative energy. And classical dance is one of the most evolved and expressive forms of art there is. To see it suffering due to lack of participation and support from the public and government is a terrible thing. This is a problem that has a solution. All it takes is active participation. Government funding is unreliable and highly competitive and fraught with red tape and delays. Private sponsorships without audiences (or worser still-distracted audiences-you know the type-the ones who are busy on their cellphones or having an animated conversation with the person next to them while the show is going on) is meaningless. All it takes is making an effort to pay the ticket and actually going for a show wholeheartedly. Make it a family ritual if you have to but do support classical dance/ professional dancers/ committed organizers in some way or the other. Otherwise all that money you are spending on your child’s dance lessons is nothing but wasted money because he/ she is definitely not going to benefit from it in the future.

And unlike what people might imagine, behind all that glamour of dancing professionally, is countless hours of physically taxing hard work, living pay check to pay check, writing endlessly to organizations seeking to get a performance, unmanageable expenses that come from studio rentals, travel expenses, payments to musicians and other technicians, networking with industry critics, fund raising and so on. The list is both tiring and endless. I’ve always been an advocate for classical dance. As a trained dancer as well as a classical dance organizer, I’ve seen both sides of existence. And it’s not glamorous. It’s just plain hard work that does not gets paid. These professionals are not dancing because it helps them pay the bills – they are doing it because they are passionate about their art. It’s quite sad that as a society we are not making their lives any easier. Or acknowledging the meaningful contributions they are making in our mundane lives with their beautiful art.

Support classical dance!

Attend classical dance shows! Or atleast have an open discussion about what we can do to change things….

Read the Anitha Rathnam’s original article Here.

– This article has been reproduced from a FB post written by Sruthi Mohan

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