The well-known Bharatanatyam artist, Geeta Chandran talks about the role of an artist and governance issues that need attention
Yoshika Sangal | November 25, 2016 | New Delhi
Geeta Chandran is a well-known Bharatanatyam artist. She has founded the dance academy, Natya Vriksha, which has travelled across the globe for promotion of Bharatanatyam. She has contributed in Carnatic music, television, theatre, choreography and dance training. She has also presented many performances in India and abroad to raise funds for social causes. Chandran has received several prestigious awards including the Padma Shri in 2007.
What role does an artist play in society?
Just being an artist should be enough. All art forms communicate universal values that link people. There are some artists who push the frontiers beyond the mandate of their art forms. They become leaders. They question, think, provoke. They become icons. But the role that any artist wishes to play in society is purely an individual choice.
Does fusion hamper originality?
What form of art one finds satisfying is an individual decision. To me, pristine classical Bharatanatyam is as fulfilling as creating new genres of work. Every artist has the freedom to choose their own creative expression. If fusion is what one finds fulfilling, so be it. Let’s not moralise on what is right and wrong. The criticism can only be whether it is well-done or half-baked. To me, training in any art form is paramount.
You also highlight social issues through dance.
I have involved myself with social issues that have irked me. Environmental degradation, man’s inhumanity to man, the meaninglessness of war and conflict, the need to question our myths, gender conflict, all have engaged my work.
When was the last time you visited a government office? How was your experience?
Often enough. I think government workplaces are changing. There is increasing accountability and yes, even cleanliness. Of course, e-governance is still to be fully operationalised, but the efforts are visible and growing.
What are the governance issues that you think need attention?
I think transparency of selection procedures is something that cultural governance has to embrace as a value. Unfortunately, coteries coalesce around government structures and talent is not always the touchstone for cultural decisions. I would rank the need for both, a culture of transparency and cultural education for the bureaucracy, at the top of my wish list for change.
(The interview appears in November 16-30, 2016)
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