The Path of a Dancer

  • Meenu Thakur Sankalp
  • India
  • Mar 07, 2015

Has Dance created the artiste or is it the other way round? A sincere attempt to discern the balance between Dance and the Dancer, and their sharing of credit, if any, brings to light the primary focus of any art or artiste - the creation of something new. A Dancer is the most visible artiste, performing in front of a live audience. The Dancer is the instrument through which the tune of Dance is played. The Dancer’s tireless efforts to demonstrate and recreate add a new chapter each day to the ever-growing repertoire of Dance itself. However, nothing is greater than the imminent understanding that the success of Dance, or that of the Dancer, depends on the will to learn and, above all, the humility to step back. No Dance can succeed if the Dancer is engulfed with the feeling that there is nothing left to accomplish or create.  Many Dance forms have suffered from this fate and have hurtled towards oblivion. Many great Dance gurus have not attempted to pass on their skills to learners for two primary reasons: the first is the unwillingness to part with what they have created painstakingly for decades, lest the same be ‘hijacked’ by the next generation Dancer; the second is the element of selfishness that is engrained in every creative individual - the feeling of being the ‘Last Emperor’ of one’s art, even if it means the imminent extinction of the Dance form itself. Dance gurus and teachers should remember that the proponent of a particular Dance form is almost always revered. An art form almost always owes its indebtedness to its preserver or creator, assuming that the creator is not also the last man left standing amidst the ruins. The greatest gurus are the ones who have drifted peacefully to the background, after dutifully passing on their art to their talented disciples. Any Dance form, be it Kuchipudi, Salsa or Ballet, would live longer if its illustrious proponents help not only in its evolution and innovation, but also in ensuring its sustenance. Coming to the individual, it is natural that every proponent of Dance longs for recognition – with a lifelong passion and ambition to have his/her name becoming synonymous with a Dance style. The Dancer, however, is but a miniscule part of Dance, even though his/her image instantly flashes as the identification mark of a Dance form. The greatest Dancers always remember the time when they began to dance, cocooned in the tutelage of their celebrated masters, practising and performing incognito - representing the banner of their revered Gurus or an institution. Never did they feel the need to surpass their Gurus or the art that they were devoted to. All they wished was to be a part of a bigger design. But in some cases egos have dwarfed the purpose of Dance. Why do some Dancers feel neglected if their names are not ‘placed’ in the same league as their contemporaries? Why do they feel heartbroken if their efforts are overshadowed by others? These Dancers, in most cases established ones, forget that only a few out of thousands (of Dancers) will be remembered – and that too primarily for their selflessness and devotion to the art. It’s far better to pass on one’s ideals to the future generations, than to try and rest on one’s laurels. Dance is a mighty mountain that can deflect the strongest of winds, but the hardy mountain can get chipped away by unscrupulous ‘miners’. The Dancer needs to choose his or her path clearly: to be the gentle breeze that meanders through the mountain, or the vain rock-cutter that helps bring down the mountain.



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