March 22 March 22 : Noted Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran, who has devoted many decades of her life to the Indian classical dance form, says that dance is fragile and is yet to become a viable profession in India.

"Systems of support and patronage have been vague and ill-conceived. Talent does not get recognised. It is still dependent on who you are, and if you know the right people. So many young dancers are learning classical forms today - probably the highest ever in our history.

"Yet why do so few become professional dancers? Systems like insurance for dancers, regular pay and financial security need to be addressed," Chandran, 58, told IANSlife in an interview.

Asked how she looks back at her long and inspiring career, she said that "looking back is a luxury that I simply do not have. I am a forward-looking person and am planning performances for solo and group for the next few years." "My creative process is slow and arduous. It involves research and resource persons interacting with a wide swathe of intelligentsia before a concept is presented on stage. Of course, my values and aesthetic have developed over the past five-decades of my engagement with Bharatanatyam under fabulous teachers and gurus," she said.

How can we, then, prod on more to join the creative fields? "Young persons will come into the creative professions only if we are able to create a level-playing field. Today, with technology, the creative industries and their propagation are changing. But the ground-rules need to be defined and financial sustainability needs to be in place." "Also, support systems like cultural managers who are professionals need to be encouraged. Today, a creative person in India is expected to do everything on their own, create, market and manage media and the more difficult social media. This is unsustainable and comes at the cost of creativity." Notably, Chandran's daughter, Sharanya, has also followed in her mother's footsteps and taken to Bharatanatyam. She is also a development economist, a profession that fuels her passion - dance.

"Like any of my other disciples, she knows the pitfalls of full-time engagement in dance. She loves to dance but also realizes that it cannot be financially sustainable. So, to fund her dance passion, she pursues her other profession as a development economist.

"What a terrible situation to be in, isn't it? Our failure to make the arts financially sustainable is one of the outstanding failures of our current social-political system." (This article is website exclusive and cannot be reproduced without the permission of IANSlife)
Siddhi Jain can be contacted at

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