With foreign dance forms like salsa and hip hop making their way into Indian films and dance reality shows, Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj feels western dance and music is “polluting” Indian culture.
According to him, climbing up a rope and jumping on the ground or getting on top of another person is not dance but “tamasha”.
“The mixing of western music with Indian music has polluted our culture. Indian dance and music is a form of meditation. We spend hours to learn a mere mudra, but for these dance forms, all you need is a few classes,” he says.
Maharaj, who is the scion of the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance, refuses to acknowledge anything devoid of “depth” as dance.
“Climbing on a rope, jumping back, getting on top of another person -- they are calling that dance, but that is circus. Do it. Show it. Just don’t call it dance. Call it by some other name -- circus, drama, tamasha -- but how can you call it dance?”
“I do not consider hopping around to be dance. It is something that does not have any depth,” he says.
The artiste, who also has an excellent command over Hindustani classical music, says that barring the classical western instruments like a piano or a violin, most musical instruments from the other side of the globe produce nothing but “noise”.
“Most of the western instruments create noise and not music that is supposed to calm and sooth one’s soul. Their classical music is great, but hip-hop and all is not music!” he says.