'Bharatanatyam allows you to create, innovate'

Classical call

Starting her career at the age of 6, she was hailed as a star before she turned 20. After more than four decades as a leading Bharatanatyam dancer.

Prathibha Prahlad feels that all dancers cannot be performers. There are many people who learn dance and all of those, cannot become performers. Among the performers also, everyone can’t make a career because it is hard to pursue and takes a lot. So, there have to be other avenues available for people who are associated with the arts but can’t be performers,” she tells Metrolife on the sidelines of ‘Shrishti Festival of Music and Dance’ and ‘India International Conference of Yoga, Yoga Dance and Naturopathy’ held in the capital recently.

As the founder of her organisation Prasiddha Foundation which was formed in 1991 to further the interests of the artistic fraternity and the brain behind the Delhi International Arts Festival, she avers, “Most people in arts are there for public acclaim and when it is not coming, they tend to give up easily.”

On the recent developments in the classical dance, she points out, “Over the years, I think Bharatanatyam has changed, evolved, developed in very different ways. It gives you an overall perspective about Indian arts, aesthetics and culture.”

She adds, “There was a time when people said that Bharatanatyam is archaic and time-consuming, I don’t think so. I think this dance form allows you to create, innovate, and bring in new themes in the already existing form. Any form that is dynamic allows you to innovate and with new themes, it is a form that is alive and flowing.”

That is why she believes that the traditional repertoire in Bharatanatyam can’t be replaced by fusion dances. “I am not the one for fusion because I think that a lot of people do fusion when they haven’t even mastered one art form. When a master tries to collaborate and bring in other dance forms, it’s very exciting to see what happens when two art forms meet. But if you do fusion for the sake of it, it’s painful to see it. I love creativity and innovation but fusion is not the answer for it,” she mentions.

While many critics mention that the traditional dance forms don’t seem to find enough audiences, she concurs Indians are naturally inclined towards rhythm in dance, more so South Indians. “South of India still sees houseful audiences. It’s not a dying art form at all. With so many exponents and people learning it, it has a very good future,” says Prahlad, who is a recipient of many honours, including the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

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