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Art of living

Pursuing a career in classical music and dance is tough unless you are exceptionally talented, but your life will definitely be enriched by the discipline, concentration and other skills you learn

education Updated: Sep 19, 2012 17:13 IST
Proyashi Barua
Proyashi Barua
Hindustan Times

Almost 60% of students who enroll for courses in classical music and dance end up pursuing it as a hobby and not as a vocation. “This has been my observation,” says Madhup Mudgal, principal, Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. Citing reasons, he says, “it takes several years of formal training to become a full-fledged professional in any domain of the classical art forms. Also, one is required to pass several examinations. And after that the journey to establish one’s credentials through public performances starts. Thereafter, it is your talent and public acceptance that can make or mar you. Most people do not have this level of passion and dedication.” However, he observes, “A formal training in any classical art form or drama never fails to enrich one’s mind and psyche. Most importantly, the concentration, discipline and other allied skills that one amasses while as a student of classical art forms stands one in good stead in almost every professional sphere.”

Life improves, says Parul Dave Mukherjee, dean, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. “People who are trained in drama are disposed to fare well in terms of interpersonal relationships, public speaking and team work at any workplace.”

According to Anita Ratnam, a classical and contemporary dance exponent and choreographer of international repute, “The challenge today, essentially, is to make classical art forms resonate with the fabric of mainstream entertainment. This can well be done without diluting the sanctity and tenor of the art form in the slightest.” She is right. Today, several young practitioners of classical art forms and drama are taking up this cause.

Nikolina Nikoleskeni, a Croatian Bharatanatyam dancer, who runs her own company, says, “I choreograph classical dance shows for a variety of public entertainment platforms. High profile weddings, corporate events, fashion shows and corporate launches are just a few avenues.”

To popularise theatre, Ira Dubey, theatre and small screen actor, says, “We need to brand it (theatre) it well and relate it with contemporary and popular social subjects and issues. For instance, theatre artistes can endorse popular consumer brands and causes. There is a whole gamut to be explored in this regard and I want to make a beginning through my own theatre company.”

Mainstreaming is one side of the coin. For career opportunities to multiply in this field enhanced government patronage is critical. This, however, is sadly lacking. Says Mukherjee, “If you compare the kind of patronage that China offers to the art world, India is far behind. There is no lack of funds but there is a real lack of expertise and resource people. Funds may be not lacking but the sheer bureaucratic procedure of accessing them acts as a deterrent.”

Our educational system still suffers from a developmental agenda and so the best minds go to IITs, IIMs and other career-oriented fields. What is unfortunate, says Mukherjee, is the disconnect between the civil society — world of experts, academics, art enthusiasts and bureaucracy. “Academia can play a significant role in bridging this disconnect. For instance, through our weekly public lectures, we at the School of Arts and Aesthetics reach out to the wider public and aspire to sustain discursive interest in the field. This approach can be duplicated by other institutes that offer training in classical art forms, drama and fine arts,” she concludes.

Where do you train and how much money can you make?

* Sangeet Natak Academy
* Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya
* School of Performing and Fine Art
* Centre for Indian Classical Dances
* Shriram Bharatiya Kalakendra
* Birju Maharaj Parampara
* National School of Drama
* Delhi College of Arts
* Saraswati Sangeet Mahavidyalaya

Fine arts: Individual creations of freshers can fetch anything between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 15,000
Creations of celebrity artists can fetch prices over a lakh and beyond
Classical art forms: Beginners can command anywhere between Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 35,000 for group performances. For solo performances there is no fixed price and it depends on the calibre of the artiste.There is no limit to the earnings of professionals

First Published: Sep 18, 2012 15:49 IST