The Buck Stops Here !!

A popular Australian channel in Sydney in one of its featured programmes did a segment on Indian Dance. The only recommendation they could provide its millions of viewers is of a particularly westernised bollywood dance school. Whilst there is nothing wrong per se with bollywood dancing, what makes me turn your toes, purse your lips and flare my nostrils with an increasing annoying feeling is this careless portrayal of Indianism and Indian Music and Dance. There are today numerous qualified well talented and dedicated Bharathanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Kathakali dancing schools and  Carnatic, Hindustani, Instrumental music Schools in Australia.  There are visiting professors, talented musicians who are willing to offer their esteemed services at very nominal amounts to come to Australia to educate, perform, upskill, develop better understanding of the Indian Arts which receives no main stream media recognition, bar a few sparsely sponsored programmes, if at all.   

 

Well I think the Buck stops here.  What is holding us back ? Why do we want to continue to keep our classical arts in ghettos and closed corners ? At the expense of sounding arrogant which I have been criticised for, this cloak of humility and humbleness gets us no where. Humbleness does not grab attention, it does not create a undying interest, it does not sell. If Classical Music and Dance needs to survive today it needs to be portrayed, discussed, critiqued and performed in all avenues across cultures and age groups with pride with conviction with belief and with good sponsored dollars. What can you do about it ? You can make the change by Being the Change is a popular saying. I have compiled a few things I do which you can also try :

1. Sitting at a restaurant listening to some sitar playing in the background:

You can tell your colleague the name of the instrument and talk about music in general. You can offer to give him some CD’s to listen to if he or she shows interest.  Nowadays there are also DVD’s available and good You Tube links that can be passed on. 

2. If there are professional concerts of visiting artists in town, be it Sydney or Melbourne, 

tell as many people as you can about the concert. Tell your neighbours, keep spare posters with you at all times Just hand them out, or post them in community notice boards, inform your local libraries, playgroup mothers! you can do it,  schools and university networks, gift a ticket to a friend for her or his birthday.  

3. If you play an Indian Instrument.

October fest is coming along with Aussie Spring and every one is out and about.  Offer to play for ten minutes and include a demonstration at these outdoor events. Involve the viewers and ask them to try the instrument. Give them the option of coming back to you, if you can offer more. You can do the same if you are a dancer. You can get one of your youngest students to dress up in gear or do it simply and ask audiences to try a few dancing steps.

4. Email details of the Show

to your local free community newspaper. Offer to write a review and place attractive photographs alongside. You can write about how a shehnai is made, the meaning of a beautiful poem of bharathiyaar, or talk about the essence and importance that music plays in an everyday Indian life.

5. Most importantly, you can involve your friends and family

in ways that make it an enriching family experience. The best memories I have in my life with music was not at a concert but at home when dad played his violin every time Delhi went into its power failures. In darkness surrounded by candlelight my father’s violin playing Kafi rings in my ears even today….

 

6. Let us Support Each Other

I have always believed that without some financial reward neither, sponsors, organisers nor artists can continue their work endlessly. Just because it is classical, it does not have to be free. Put aside an affordable amount for classical events. We can do without that latest fashion gear and free space in our wardrobes. Art makes US – You and Sydhwaney !!