A new trend has emerged to breathe fresh air into traditional performance arts. Music and dance performances are being fused with poetry for a refreshing take on classical arts. As well-known Sufi singer Kavita Seth plans to stage a musical performance of late Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam’s verses in the near future, tricity music and dance lovers also witnessed an innovative take on a traditional Kuchipudi presentation fused with Hindi and Urdu poetry.
Kuchipudi exponent Shallu Jindal, head of Jindal Power Limited and vice-president of Flag Foundation of India, enthralled the audience with her choreography on a bhajan by Mira Bai and Tarangam (traditional dance on a metal plate) at the Tagore Theatre on Monday.
Wife of business tycoon Naveen Jindal, Shallu is of the rare breed of dancers from an affluent north Indian family who chose a south Indian classical dance form. She explains her part as a dancer by saying she is determined to create a better future for artists in the country and serve society through dance.
Groomed by Padma Bhushan Guru Raja-Radha and Kaushalya Reddy and driven by instinct, Shallu strongly believes in destiny. Not only that, she is a fine example of feminine strength, having worked hard for years and transformed herself into a dancer who mastered the dance form despite shouldering other responsibilities.
On being asked about the audience in India, she says, “I got to know that after a short spell, the audience start losing interest in the recital so I choreographed Kuchipudi on Urdu poetry and Hindi bhajans to present something different to stir people’s interest. Moreover, the dancer has a great responsibility to keep the audience engaged in the recital.”
Chairperson of National Bal Bhawan, and mother to a budding Kuchipudi dancer, Shallu says parents should encourage children to learn classical art forms because they teach patience and hard work, contributing towards holistic development.
Also a member of the Central Advisory Board on Culture, she says, “Dance forms and tribal art in India need mentors and supporters. In foreign countries artistes are given good remuneration and great respect. The government has a big role to play in this regard.” She also advocates pension for ageing artists. “The government should make performers feel that it’s alright to live the life of an artiste,” she adds, hinting at the plight of artistes in India. Shallu is all set to open an art academy in New Delhi and Odisha to promote various art forms and provide training to underprivileged children free of cost. She has also authored a book ‘Lost Arts of India’ that aims at identifying artistes from various fields. “Children from great families of musicians and dancers are giving up on their art because they’ve seen the struggle artistes face firsthand,” she said.