Jumpstyle, mambo, lindy hop, flamenco, locking and popping. Do they sound alien to you? But Tanushree Chakraborty, a 54-year-old housewife, who stays in Burdwan, 100 kilometres from Kolkata, knows all these dance forms. And so does Pooja Kumari (32), another housewife from the Ghatshila, a small town in Jharkhand.
Television has reached every household and so have the dance reality shows. It goes without saying that dance reality shows have created a great impact on the audiences by making them aware of new dance forms and dancing techniques.
Choreographer Geeta Kapoor, who has been a judge on dance reality show, Dance India Dance, since 2009, says that dance-based reality shows educate audiences about different dancing styles. "Today, people are open to learning a lot of new things. These dance reality shows push them to become better at the art. The more one sees the participants trying out different dances forms, the more they become interested," says Kapoor.
However, a few also feel that the dance reality shows on television channels are commodifying dance in order to garner high TRPs. Kolkata-based Sudarshan Chakravorty, who has choreographed Sushmita Sen in her debut Bengali film, Nirbaak, feels dancers need do a certificate course in dancing before attempting reality shows. "Reality shows are creating a lot of employment opportunities but if someone wants to master an aerial act in just a few days, he or she needs to have immense body fitness, education and skill. Many students, who participate in reality shows, come to me and complain of body aches. There’s lot of glamour in the reality shows, but there’s a lot of faking too. A number of parents come to us, who want their children to be trained for reality shows but they never stress on improving their basic dancing standard," says the choreographer, who also runs a dance institution, Sapphire Dance Creations, in Kolkata. Chakravorty also says, "The reality shows don’t focus on mastering the craft because all they want is TRPs. I think it’s necessary for dancers to get enrolled in any dance institute, take courses and then only aim for reality shows or else, it will go haywire."
There’s another side to the story too. Take the case of Mithu Chowdhury. The mother of two from Kolkata, who won the first edition of Dance India Dance Super Moms in 2013, today runs a dance school at her hometown, Rishra, 45 kms from Kolkata. So much so, that Chowdhury keeps getting requests from parents to train their children for reality dance shows. "Almost 60 % the parents come with the request of training and grooming their children for reality dance shows. However, I specifically tell them that dance is an art. It needs to be learnt and only a few especially talented dancers get through certain dance shows," she says.
On the other hand Ganesh Acharya, who has choreographed for films such as Rang De Basanti, Golmaal, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Heropanti, believes that television channels cater what the audience demands. "Everything depends on the demand of the audience. The new generation wants hip hop, salsa, cha-cha-cha, rumba and other dance styles and hence you see that on television. If the same generation switches interest to folk and classical dance, you will get to watch that," he says.
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