The journey of an artist from a student, to a performer/ creator / director and then a teacher is a very natural progression. Many legendary teachers of the world in every field have taken this path. From Socrates, Aristotle, Leanordo da vinci, Einstein, Beethoven, Mozart, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Rukmini Devi Arundale to M.S. Subbalakshmi… almost every individual treads this path (consciously or unconsciously). This journey travels through different worlds. There have been students of micro biology turned into choreographers, and mathematicians who have turned into teachers of music. This journey has allowed us to learn and understand the world through different perspectives.
‘I am not selfish enough to be a performer all my life and not selfless & knowledgeable enough to teach all my life’.
We begin with an insatiable urge to learn, the thirst for knowledge takes us to different sources, teachers and experiences followed by a desire to create and explore with the tools obtained through training and further an unexplainable longing to share this knowledge and experience. We choose our teachers through books, examples, research, and direct guidance from an expert/scholar or through self realization.
It has been an interesting journey to share, learn and collaborate with dancers of Nritarutya. Every dancer hails from a different movement background. Every company acquires recognition and identity through the work they create and a style of moving they develop for themselves…likewise there is a definite framework within which they work, create, explore and experiment. Contemporary dance in India does not necessarily fit into to the worlds’ definition of contemporary dance. We have an ocean of traditional art forms to find a movement vocabulary of expression and innumerable literary, music and cultural sources to choose from. Nritarutya’s’ works are inspired from multiple sources and have a rich aesthetic presence.
As part of Dance education they give free scholarship based training to young dancers of various age groups and they have an elaborate training regime that exposes them to various Indian traditional art forms and performance. To understand their approach to movement and choreography and to be able to device technique classes is an interesting task. Any movement technique should have universal utility for eg .yoga would help every kind of movement artist regardless of cultural or artistic differences. A good technique would survive the test of time and go beyond all frontiers. To be able to work with talented young, passionate dancers and help them in understanding the utilization of different techniques to apply it in their individual and creative process is a challenge for a teacher. It is also a challenge for me to be able to apply these techniques when I dance with them as a guest performer.
Teaching has been an incredible learning experience. There is no place for pride or ego for a student and a teacher. I have often wondered if dance could be taught. It’s an innate quality in us to express through movement / body and to formally teach and train someone is somewhere beyond my comprehension. The recent emphasis has been more on stylization, codification and demarcation of one form from another and I ponder about formal training in dance as an expressive medium .To answer questions like why point your feet, why stretch your knees, why bend your knees leaves me with answers that have more to do with a codified form and tradition than the individual expression itself.
Training as a performer is essential like in any other skill, with performing artistes its also a tool of survival. To comprehend the nuances of the body, to develop strength and flexibility and fine tune it as an instrument of performance is one way of looking at it. It is inconceivable for us to accept our body as a high maintenance car that just facilitates our journey.
TO LEARN IS TO TEACH ONESELF, knowledge is about self realization and through my body /dance I discover (learn/teach) myself.