Indian classical dances have often been referred to as a divine dance form. And those who dance to the divine melody have found a patron in the form of Department of Language and Culture, Telangana and Ravindra Bharathi. In fact, this cultural hub in the city is now the most popular stage for Arangetrams, the on-stage debut of classical dancers, and other performances. Not only are many of the performances sponsored by the department, but they also get to perform to a full house at Ravindra Bharathi. This is indeed a huge reprieve as dancers, in general, have a tough time finding sponsorship and often end up performing to a sparse audience. But how do the authorities take a call on giving patronage? Is it based on sheer skill or the clout of the dance gurus?
Mamidi Hari Krishna, Director of the Department of Language and Culture, Telangana, feels the rainbow that is Indian culture is given various hues by the different states. “By giving the dancers from other states the opportunity to showcase their culture in the city, it only adds to the sheen of Telangana,” he says.
The selection process is very simple. Anybody who wishes to showcase his/her dance is welcome. The Department provides two types of sponsorship — either it pays a rent of minimum Rs 1 lakh per day to Ravindra Bharathi or they sponsor production and costume expenditure.
Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant
He adds, “There is no selection committee. Who are we to judge and put down the morale of the performer by saying no? We sponsor only those whose gurus have a certification but that doesn’t mean we put down others.”
All eyes on Arangetram
Meanwhile, what was once a simple and auspicious occasion has now turned into an elaborate affair. But few parents have their eyes fixed on the Arangetram from the day their children start their dance training.
Prof. Alekhya Punjala
Deepika Reddy, eminent Kuchipudi dancer, guru and National Sangeet Natak Awardee, feels there is immense pressure on the students from the day they join. “Even though the parents ask me about the Arangetram from day one, I do not give them any guarantee. I sit and counsel them about the entire process. When I see that my students are ready for performance, I ask for help from the department, if there is a need for sponsorship,” she says, adding that Hari Krishna has always been very supportive of the arts.
Prof. Alekhya Punjala, Registrar, Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University of Hyderabad, shares that many parents feel that as the Arangetram involves a lot of expenditure, it isn’t compulsory. “I do not force anybody to get their Arangetram done. As teachers, we look into various other aspects of performance which includes a suitable repertoire.”
Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant, Padmashri, SNA awardee and director of Shankarananda Kalakshetra, feels the entire process of Arangetram is a difficult one as it requires a lot of dedication from the guru as well the student.