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"Proficiency is no longer a judging factor"

My very first interaction with her was over phone when a gentle voice quipped from the other side –“You are welcome to Mysore”. She was somebody who was very happy to be herself and where she belonged to. Whether Mysore has engrossed her or she has a maternal feeling towards this culture city, Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy is truly an ambassador of the art from Karnataka, and precisely of Mysore. A one-on-one session with her turned out to be engaging.

Recount your triumphs and odds in setting up this dance empire (If I may call so).
Odds exist in every mode of one’s life. Turning them into triumphs is what I have always concentrated. Personal odds like relationships and age are small factors. But my family extended full support in giving a final shape to my vision. Mysore accepted me with open arms; But for this, I could not have traveled so far. Trust and dedication in my strengths also played a very important role.

How do you see the cultural scenario today?
Commercialization has crept in big time. A lot of talent that I come across is from middle class families which cannot afford the pricey requirement of today’s propagation agendas of art. There is a tremendous interest in pursuing, but when the effort sees no outcome in terms of encouragement and exposure it hits dead ends.

Being in the public eye is gaining precedence, much more than learning this ancient art form. Proficiency is no longer a judging factor. With very little training, youngsters take to stage and loose steadiness post this. I make sure that I put all my resources whether material and other wise to better the scenario.

You are less seen in Bangalore. Is it the emotional attachment to Mysore?
Oh! No. I conduct classes in Bangalore. Just had a couple of performances at the Kinkini Nrityotsava, ISCKON and a few others. I perceive a lot of group-ism in Bangalore. This owes to the fact of excess dancers flocking at one place. I am happy being in my own nest.

You are a strict disciplinarian.
True, I am. In my view being disciplined should be a way of life for artistes. That should not send wrong signals that I am harsh. For example, I am a stricter for time. My institute is always labeled as a Bharatanatyam and Yoga centre. So any student entering my institute should show up on time for the yoga classes and then the dance class.

Likewise, I am also particular in the way my institute hosts and conducts these annual shows that we have. Right from their attire to stage presence to hospitality, I ensure there are no lapses anywhere. And may be all this gave me the title 'Amma'. I have students who walk into my house straight from college, make food, eat and then stand to dance.

Your view of youngsters today? Their choice of careers.
Youngsters today are provided with a good blend of technology and teachers. Add to this they are talented themselves. Young dancers are sharp and logically reasoning in taking all the good from what they see.

With respect to careers, generally the ones who are good at dance will also be good academically. That has been the trend for long. They strike the right balance and are equally dedicated in both the realms. The situation is now heading nowhere. Our government has to chalk out a plan to provide youngsters taking to art with monetary benefits. Else we will loose out talent.

As a Guru I teach them the best to my potential, motivate them and recommend ways to keep them happy.

Shri Jayaramaraje Urs (Secretary, Kannada and Culture) announced the creation of a separate academy for dance. Your reaction?
'Politics and dance' or 'Politics in dance', both a very daisy arena to comment on! Something new is always welcome; a good move of having a separate academy for dance. I look forward to it. But how it would be handled is the question. If the academy is comprised of artistes, then only politics will reign and nothing else. In my opinion it should be a merger of organizers, funders and artistes, where the administration is coordinated separately.

This view comes out of experience. Having been the youngest member of the Karnataka Sangeetha Nataka Academy and visiting professor in the Alabama University, I have seen things terrible. I have not known the art of lobbying. As it was said on the stage today, (in one of her festivals) my name had been suggested for a Rajya Sabha seat, of which I had no clue.

One thing for sure, our government fails to support its home bred artistes. They go head over heals for outside artistes. Tell me how many Kannada works are made popular through dance as compared to the ones in Tamil and Telugu literature. Our artistes are ignored and taken for granted.

Give us a brief about the festivals that you conduct through the year.
I conduct four festivals a year. It begins with Chiguru Sanje for the children. This was initiated in response to the Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Akademi award that I received. Natarajotsava is for male and couple dancers who get less space in the performing sector. Pallavotsava for young and upcoming artistes and Parangotsava for acclaimed dancers and dance institutions.


Giri said...

Yes absolutely Dr.Vasundara D dedicate her life to promote culture and dance. I have seen number of events she organized in mysore. Appreciate her making new generation with a strict discipline.

Vsnigdha said...

Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy is the perfect example of a selfless artists who believes in Art for Art's Sake. I have been helped by her in many ways in my career and her blessings and kind words would always be cherished by me.
She has raised some pertinent issues in the dance field. Excellent interview.


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