Switch on the idiot box at night and what you are most likely to see is either dance maestro Saroj Khan giving a tip or two on the thumkas or the dhak dhak girl Madhuri Dixit performing her heart throbbing numbers. Chances are that you will also spot leggy beauty Malaika Arora Khan throwing a kiss at the dancers or even the once upon a time disco icon Mithun Da repeating his phrase’ kya baat’ at a good performance. Javed Jaffrey, Urmila Matonkar, Remo Fernandez, Gita …. and apparently all the dancing gurus are here to offer their best and many dancing stars are created, cajoled and hyped almost every other day.
Television as we can see is dancing away with the shooting TRP’s at every channel while dance fever seems to have gripped the new generation.
Barely, a few years ago knowledge of a classical dance was considered highly valuable and almost every class in every school had their own set of classical dancers ready to perform at every function. This now seems to be undergoing a massive transition and the craze for classical dance like Bharat Natyam, Odissi, Kathak and Satriya is slowly being overshadowed by the popularity of this dancing variations like hip hop, locking and popping, jive, salsa, cha cha,tango amongst other varieties. What may seem like a fever has its own impact.
Poonam Karamchandani, owner of the dance school Twinkle Toes in the city, who has received training on Bollywood fusion, Hip Hop from choreographer Ganesh Acharya andSalsa and Cha Cha from the very Sandip Soparkarr in the tinsel town Mumbai, claims that the dance fever that has gripped the people of the city is definitely here to stay.
Poonam who trains her students on dance forms like Rock n Roll, Jazz, Cha cha, Salsa , Foxtrot , Hip Hop and Bollywood fusion claims that in the last few years the demand for learning this variations of dance forms has increased drastically, thanks to the television shows.
“The last two to three years post the invasion of dance reality shows in television, many students approach me for training in various dance forms. The student age group varies ranges from 3 years to even 55 years. ,” informed Poonam.
She further informed that even married women approach her for such classes, some for the love of it while some simply want to remain fit. And not surprisingly the demand for learning these dances increases especially during occasions like new year, valentine’s day and during marriage season and many little ones simply want to shake a leg or two in some of the popular Bollywood numbers.
Antita Sharma, a trained Satriya and Odissi dancer who runs her own dance class called Abhinay Dance Academy in New Guwahati claims that the current fascinations for the western forms of dance is a result of media hype.
“Students now want quick fame and early access to the stage. Even western classical variety is not easy. But the Indian Television has given these modern dance forms extra attention ,” says Sharma.
The dancer also says that the Indian Television should air shows on the classical Indian variety of dance which will generate awareness amongst the new generation and would be instrumental for a changed outlook on these pure dance variety.
The classical dancer also believes that unlike the Bollywood numbers knowledge of the classical dance form requires dedication and sincerity leading to a disciplined lifestyle.
Though many say that the craze for Bollywood numbers and the decreasing interest of the young ones in the classical dance form is nothing but just a passing phrase, others say that despite everything this is not a healthy trend. Illora Bora a trained dancer in one of the oldest classical dance form, Bharat Natyam claims that despite the apparent hype over contemporary dance numbers, nothing is possibly without a base in the classical dance form.
“Classical dance is the fundamental dance form. While the status of Hip hop and other contemporary variety of dance in India is quite unstable,” says Illora Bora.
Bora who also imparts training in classical dance in Guwahati says that classical dance like Bharat Natyam which is derived from Natya Shastras has an art of storytelling done with the usage of fine expressions and mudras which have a certain stature of their own.
Ironically the number of young children wanting to learn these dance form has decreased in the recent years. The reasons could be many but one thing is obvious that like instant noodles everyone wants to be trained instantly. Despite criticism lurched at these reality shows for encouraging other style forms and ignoring the classical form, dancing experts state that the path towards these shows is also not a mere cake walk.
Poonam Karmchandani clearly points out, “ To reach the level of these reality shows is not as easy as it may appear. For this one needs to have at least 12 months of rigorous training and many students due to pressure of studies and other problems are unable to do so,” adds Poonam .
Many of Poonam’s students have won accolades in the state for their dancing skills but as far as these shows are concerned only some who have taken part in the preliminary rounds but have not made it to the main stage so far.
Pooja agarwal who has her own dance class in Guwahati says, “Times are changing and everyday youngs girls and boys come to me to learn latest dance numbers. Though it’s getting quite demanding, I have to teach them salsa, contemporary and even hip hop which are basically the result of the modern reality shows aired on TV.”
The dancer who has been specially trained in these variety in Mumbai claims that many simply want a crash course and want to learn everything in just a few week’s time.Few years ago she had 30 students now she has more than a hundred .
“They see young dancers being trained by choreographers in a few days and coming up with a new dance form every week. They think it is easy, though it is not,” said Pooja.
Most dancers are shot to instant fame after a few episodes and many earn appreciation from the leading stalwarts in Bollywood. Though the longevity of the fame is not quite clear as every day the number of new talents emerge at every show.
As the new generatiosn fixation with instant fame and faster performance increases everyday the mudras are slowly replaced by the hip hop while the ragas are being replaced by regae. Quite surprisingly many classical dance schools have added new wings to their classes and promise to provide their students with workshops on the modern variety.
Despite this some are adamant that all is well and despite the sudden craze in these modern dances, the purity and exceptionally of the classical variety is unbeatable and will continue to have it sown set of interested students who love art and dance in its purest form.
The article was published on the weekend chronicle