The life of a deserving professional dancer, isn’t what most people think it is. It is not what it looks like. The journey of a dancer if conceived as a river flowing unhindered with other entities. Which then travels through its various paths and finally merges with the ocean; feels so pleasant to hear. Doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, very few dancers experience a life like this. Dancers usually face is a bag full of criticism, lack of support. They are expected to rise beyond all these obstacles in order to attain a decent amount of respect in society. If given the opportunity and right circumstances, how difficult do you think will it be for a deserving dancer to rise up to match her/his dreams of a successful dancer?
A SHORT BACKSTORY
One April afternoon six years ago, while I was visiting my education counsellor in my higher secondary college. I remember answering an aptitude test to find out my strengths and weaknesses before opting for the right profession. The result had shown that I was lucky to have 95 per cent of abstract reasoning. This meant I had a powerful imagination. Now after taking up dance as my profession, which fills my life full of passion for the art, the only question that arises is why didn’t that counsellor then suggest dance as an option to take up professionally?
DANCE AS A BEAUTIFUL ART
Dance possesses the utmost creativity and imagination. But what it lacks is that it has never been counted as a profession at a higher level of education. It has been accepted by some however it is seen merely as a stress-relieving hobby for many.
In a world full of competition, where one strives to be better than the other. An artist is left confused as to where she/he is heading and this causes frustration in her/him. Professions which can fetch a lot of income are preferred over the ones which can give immense joy to a person.
Life becomes a race and students who opt for popular professions are the contestants here. Then where are the artists? They end up becoming one among the spectators. They are not even seen in the competition and hence stand undiscovered. In a society of this kind where one wants to feel her pulse, her energy and her talent. She is obstructed from doing so. All this in the midst of a competition directed living. All she expects is a pat on the back for the creative achievements she has earned. And also an acceptance for her profession, her identity. No doubt success comes late for an artist. It also has it’s pros and cons. But giving up her passion for some work she doesn’t even enjoy doing, is it worth at all? It’s high time we all think about this.
FACTORS AFFECTING A DANCERS ABILITY TO FLOURISH
DISCRIMINATION FACED AS A DANCER
Among the few who succeed in taking up dance as a profession, they usually are ignorant about the various factors which they will face in this field. The beginning of their journey as a professional dancer has a lot in store for them. They become victims of a set of discriminations based on race, caste, age, weight, religion and others. These factors not only reduces the number of opportunities they deserve but also manages to lower their confidence and question their talent.
There comes a point where the artist is made to feel vulnerable and when she questions what she believes in, that can be the worst moment for her. For art is based on how deep she believes in her concept and how well she can exhibit it to the others. If she herself doesn’t believe in it, then there is nothing left to show. The initial level in art by itself remains unaccomplished.
This reminds me of the famous tale of the trees in the Solomon Islands. The islanders there practice a special form of curse magic. If a tree needs to be cut down, it is brought down by the combined efforts of the islanders cursing negatively and yelling at the tree. This negative energy somehow damages the tree’s life energy. The result being about thirty days of getting cursed the tree dies off and falls to the ground. Similarly, the excessive taunts and the humiliating reactions by the different groups to the dancer can kill her confidence and halt her growth.
PREY TO SOCIAL STIGMA
As we unravel the secrets of the past and try to preserve our traditional art, along with it there are various other factors which are a part of the existing art. The social stigma which was prevalent in the olden times has still managed to impact a dancer’s journey. It drastically reduces the positive impact dance has on its audience by placing prostitution and the dance industry in the same category. Dance is not viewed for its creativity and its artistic expression but it is seen as a mere form of entertainment meant for reasons other than dance. Here dance loses its spiritual meaning and gets degraded to a lower level which is looked down upon in the society.
POLITICS IN EVERY FIELD
The formula is the survival of the fittest. Politics has a vital role to play in this field. The one who has maximum power and influence has a tendency to exploit the weak. Normally the opportunities are given to the people who have a strong connection with a leader. This reduces the number of chances a deserving talent must get and hence handicaps her. She is put in a position where she feels helpless. While contemplating about it can even go to the extent of discontinuing the career she thought she was made for.
NEED FOR A GODFATHER
A desperate attempt on the artist’s side to preserve her art form can go to waste if she doesn’t establish good contacts which can aid her to display her talent. The best way to understand the state of affairs in this field is if one has a Godfather in the industry their walk has every chance to transform into a cakewalk. Hence power qualifies as a significant factor while establishing the success of any dancer.
WILL POWER WORKS LIKE MAGIC
Yet a power that can overcome these obstacles is certainly our will power. Come hell or high water every problem must be resolved. We should get to the bottom of it and try every means to succeed in dealing with these liabilities. Art must be given a respectable position in the society. The artists ought to be given the deserved respect and treatment. It is essential to cure the problem from its very root.
If dance is supported and propagated by the authorities in the society in its true form, it will grow to break all its boundaries. It is time to let dance live for it has survived through its virtuous and unscrupulous periods which means it is strong enough to last on its own.
It is time to let dance live in the hearts of all deserving artists.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
27 year old Sharlet Mary Alvares from Aldona, Goa is currently doing her Masters in Social Work Counselling. She has a degree in Choreography. There she was introduced to two forms of Indian Classical dance, Kathak and Bharatanatyam. She was a topper in her class and had an enriching journey there, moving on from a newbie to a professional. In her field as a dancer, she has seen various hurdles and difficulties. This post was inspired by those struggles. She wanted to bring those difficulties out in the mainstream media by incorporating the different aspects in the life of a deserving professional dancer. She is a poet too!
SOCIALS- BEFORE YOU GO
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