How many roles do dancers play? Not on stage but offstage. Away from the limelight and away from what you see from the outside. Being a classical dancer I have come to realize that staying relevant and staying connected are my biggest challenges.
When I say ‘connected’ I mean putting yourself out there. Make yourself accessible and pop out of the crowd. This process is much harder than it seems. Social media plays a very big part in this but it also requires a lot of time. Time that’s usually taken from hours that should be put into practice. But i don’t see it as a choice anymore. Fortunately, design and illustration is something I love to do. Creating a website, maintaining a facebook and instagram page, responding to queries about classes and performances and constantly creating youtube worthy videos are an absolute necessity for artists across the board. We are now blessed with so many platforms to share our art with numerous people.
Artists now understand the importance of creating good content and sharing ideas for people to see.
The second challenge that I talk of is staying relevant. When I say relevant I don’t mean the text of the pieces I perform. I mean adapting myself as a performer and a teachers to the changing trends and formats of sharing and learning. Workshops offered by dance gurus really help me understand how they continue to Kindle our interest in such deep concepts. This is why I believe that every dancer must have 1 guru and 1 gharana but he/she must be open to learn from anyone willing to teach. A different approach can completely reorient the way you think of yourself as an artist. I can never stress enough about the importance of performing. Of course this should come after a time when you have crafted yourself to be ready for a platform. Dance festivals, school shows, sharing opportunities, fundraisers or corporate events. No stage is unfit for a performance. Go in to each performance thinking that you are trying to better yourself as an artist and you never know how you will connect with the audience.
Where do I get started?
It is important to show professionalism in your work. Dancers need to be prepared with all their material before hand to make the right connections when an opportunity arises.
- First gather all your material. Pictures, videos, awards, certificates etc and put them up on a platform of your choice.
- Write out a nice biodata of yourself that you can mail out to organisers before a show. This could include pictures and links to your pages too. Create this is an easy to share format such as a PDF
- Write out a short synopsis about all the dances you can perform and keep them handy to mail out to organisers before a show. You can also make audio recordings of this if you prefer that to be played before your performance.
- Always have good quality music of all your pieces saved on a drive.
How do i reach out to people?
- Follow a few popular hashtags (#indianclassicaldance #odissi #odissidancers etc) and let yourself be inspired by others.
- Join facebook groups and follow pages about dance. Search Odissi on facebook and look through all the options that pop up.
- Visit websites such as Narthaki that post updates about dance festivals, workshops, shows and other learning opportunities
- Apply for dance festivals, workshops and teaching opportunities.
- Design short workshops and speak to local dance studios about hosting workshops.
The world of art is dynamic and we must learn to go with the flow. Believe strongly in the knowledge that you have but never shy away from trying different ways to reach out to people.