I am often coming across this statement from learners. 9/10 students have a definite amount of exposure to what Bharathanatyam could and would be. But why is the above statement problematic?
Let me tell you.
Predominant culture in India has always celebrated classical arts- as something that is learnt only to preserve one’s cultural identities and parents of students living outside India instigating that their children learn this art form , just so they learn indian cultural values. This has resulted in this art form navigated to a direction where it cannot be other than a “hobby skill’ because there aren’t many avenues for it. An art form like “Bharathanatyam” has a sea of knowledge and information that not only helps master the skill of movement, but also nurture one’s creative, physical and psychological growth. There are many nuances that go completely unaddressed because of the mentality that “this art form is traditional and will cultivate discipline, hence my child/me will learn this”.
But coming back to the question. Why is the statement problematic?
Its because there is a pre-determined understanding of what this art form is going to be and what purpose it serves almost clearly. The first factor to recognize is that “knowing something” is different from building the capabilities to “nurture and grow in something”. Secondly, knowing adavus without knowing the names, the relevance or the influence of it is as simple as “knowing the numbers, but not knowing the fundamental operations in math”. Finally, the most important aspect is “What you think you know 15 years ago, may not be what it actually is today”. Our bodies change, our muscles respond to movement differently, and there is no way that you can continue from when you left almost exactly which is because you are not the same person today, & also because the art form evolves too”. The statement comes from a very primitive understanding of the potential of an art form like “Bharathanatyam”.