Beyond market forces

Written by Geeta Chandran | Updated: Apr 27 2008, 05:57am hrs
On the 29th of April, as every year since 1982, Dance Day will be celebrated all over the world by the international community of dancers and dance enthusiasts. The main purpose of Dance Day events is to attract the attention of the wider public to the art of dance.

Do we need at all to observe Dance Day

As an Indian classical dancer, I loudly say Yes!.This is because incredibly, keen advocates for dance are a vanishing breed. With the frenetic focus on cinema and entertainment in the media especially the electronic media dance is being neglected, especially on our television screens. That could be because presenting dance on television is a challenge. Television cameras can ably capture stereotypical political rallies or well-painted Bollywood stars in studio situations. But capturing the live experience of dance on television requires training, sensitivity, and a sharp third eye! Unfortunately, not many in the media have the patience or the resources to develop these specialised skills.

That is why once again, on this years Dance Day 29 April the dance

community across the world will focus on educating the media on the vitality of

dance and of the responsibility the fourth estate has in protecting, promoting and

projecting dance.

Why do I advocate this special consideration for dance This is because dance needs special protection because of its very nature.

As I have said before, dance is probably the only art form that rejects the market place. The dancer has no product to market no CDs and cassettes like the musician or instrumentalist, no painting or sculpture like the artist, no buildings like the architect, no books like the authors and poets. The dancer only has his/her own body with which to create an omniscient art form, which springs alive only for that moment, and then, evanescent, fades from all existence, except memory. And memory cannot be marketed.

Hence it is the entire related industries that have cropped up to market the other arts galleries, music companies,publishing houses, ad agencies, have no dance equivalents, simply because the dancer and the dance have no commercial value. Even good old Doordarshan which once was at the vanguard of the culture neo-revival movement in India has finally given short shrift to the arts, especially dance.

In a world of rabid commerce and profit and marketing, can there be space for a dancer As a dancer, and as one who really believes in the art form, I have to affirm in the

positive.And it is the very world of commerce that justifies this fragile dance as

non-globaliseable.

Dance is beyond markets and campaigns, at a time when those two magic mantras shake up stock markets. But beyond all these other temporary upswings, dance is, culturally, our best stock option in the long run.

It reminds us of who we really are, enables our society to look at fierce forces of globalisation squarely in the face and says this is what I can be despite your boring sameness.Dance is unique and is a celebration of the highest possibilities of the human body and spirit. Dance refuses to be bound; it refuses to be scared, and it refuses to play by the rules you set it. Dance is the celebration of the individual and of individualism.In a world where similar shades of sameness threaten to obliterate differences, dance proudly says, I am

free. I am me.

That is why dance is out of bounds of the market forces that are unleashed today. Always an enfant terrible, it escapes the narrow confines of the marketplace. In a globalised world, when we are all painted of the same hue, eating, wearing and listening to what can market itself most boldly and loudly, classical dance steps in and says that it can exist despite the market, despite everything else.

That is why the institutions of our

state (and of other developing countries) should have the most stakes in supporting dance. It is the only chance they have at surviving when everything else is disinvested and sold. Dance has perennial value. It mirrors our country and its uniqueness. It gives us an edge and something no one else has. It has a heuristic value much beyond what can be measured by the instruments of the marketplace.

Wise policies that give dance its space and some resources would be the best investments for the future. Mainstreaming dance needs creative inputs. East European countries have braved globalisation by strengthening their native culture through additional investments. Local food is patronised to give the burger a tough fight. Entire television channels propagate their indigenous culture.

The onslaught of satellite television probably caught us unawares in India. With inadequate discussion, we face serious threat to our native culture from the forces of monochromatic globalisation. Yet, it is probably not too late. We can readjust our television and radio policies to reiterate and reverberate our own culture. Currently audiences have no choice. At least give the people a choice.

Celebrate Dance Day by watching dance, enjoying dance, and giving dance a chance!

The writer is an eminent Bharatanatyam dancer