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3 Essential elements of art that every artist must incorporate in their practice

When my daughters were five and two years old respectively, my husband decided he wanted them to learn classical dance. It was a bit surprising because there was no one with any artistic inclination on both sides of the family.

We found a local teacher who came from a reputed ‘classical dance family’ from north India. Her parents ran a Bharat Natyam school in India while her sister and she ran similar schools in Singapore and Australia.

We enrolled our daughters in her school and a very strict regime started for them at a very early age. Rules were strict and inflexible. Many kids left. Those who survived had to put their heart and soul into something which others regarded as just an extracurricular activity.

For this dedicated teacher and her whole family, Bharat Natyam is art. And art demands nothing less than total commitment.

One of the rules was an annual dance performance. There was no escape from it. Every student regardless of age or expertise had to participate.

Preparation for the performance demanded more than two months of commitment. Extra classes, longer session, repeat performance, full program rehearsals, full dress rehearsals, stage rehearsals. Sometimes my children had to practice four nights a week that too after school on winter nights. Even exams were not an excuse. Parents had to chip-in too, by selling tickets and cooking food to be sold during the break.

A normal perception could be that she would make a lot of money from it but she wasn’t. She was, in fact, putting money from her own pocket to buy costumes and jewelry. And she was spending countless hours into training before the show.

Why performance was so important?

Because without performance the students won’t get better. The age of teaching traditions of classical Indian dancing has an inbuilt element of performance. It is believed without performance, there is no learning.

To qualify as a Barat Natyam dancer a student has to perform Arangetram – an on-stage solo performance for three hours in front of a live audience. Not only the dancer has to have the stamina to dance for three hours but she also has to have variety in her performance to captivate the audience for that long.

Writing is also an art.

We need to present our work, on a regular basis.

We need to develop stamina too. Without that, we won’t be able to meet deadlines.

And we also need to develop pizzazz in our writing to captivate our readers.

Whether you are a dancer, painter, or writer you got to find a way to incorporate – presentation, stamina and pizzazz -in your art.

The images are from Cultural India.

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