In India, dance is an age-old tradition. This vast sub-continent has given birth to varied forms of dancing, each shaped by the influences of a particular period and environment. Indian dance is an extremely intricate art requiring skill, hard work and discipline. All Indian dances portray some expression of life and almost every dance posture has a specific meaning. Dance themes are derived from mythology, folklore, legends and classical literature.
Indian dance is said to have originated from ‘Natya Shastra’, which is a detailed script written on all aspects of Indian dance. The author of ‘Natya Shastra’ was ‘Bharata Muni’ who wrote it some time in the 2nd century B.C.
The two main divisions of dance are classical and folk forms. There are dance forms typical to certain parts of the country and these dance forms are based on ancient dance discipline. The various classical forms are Bharatnatyam of Tamil Nadu, Kuchupudi of Andhra Pradesh, Odissi of Orissa, Kathak, Kathakali and Manipuri. The uniqueness of Indian classical dances is that they are all devotional in content. Of all these dance forms, Bharat Natyam is believed to be the oldest and the purest Indian classical dance.
Training in Dance should start as early as age six or less, much before the official professional training. Besides an in born talent, the basic requirement for a full time Professional training is matriculation or 10 + 2. Some institutes at the time of admission even give preference to students having a talent. Careers in this field can be that of a performer, teacher and choreographer.
To be in this field one needs to have an inborn talent, training and guidance can only sharpen these talents.
Educational: To take up a course in this subject the basic requirement is 10+2. However, for post graduate level courses graduation in the subject is compulsory. Courses offered in this area are certificate courses, bachelor courses, diploma courses and post graduate level courses. Duration of various courses: Certificate course is of one year, Bachelor courses is of three years, Diploma and Post Graduate level courses is of two years.
Training in this field is available at a number of schools and institutes all over India. The Kathak Kendra in Delhi, the Kalakshetra in Chennai, Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi are some of the prominent institutes conducting courses in Dance.
Course areas include history and evolution of dance and dance forms, the characteristic features of the dance form one specialises in, covering all aspects of dance as a performing art.
Personal attributes: Main attributes are talent, versatility, sense of rhythm, dedication, grace, an expressive facial and body language, an ability to interpret roles, attractive appearance, stage presence, creativity, physical stamina etc.
There are also many opportunities for self-employment in the form of holding private classes or starting an institution.
Career options available in this areas are that of a performer, teacher and choreographer.
Teaching: To be in this field one needs an aptitude to teach, initiative and patience. They must also have thorough knowledge of practical and theoretical aspects of dance. They should have a perfect sense of rhythm, and some proficiency in music.
Dancers who take up teaching as a profession can find opportunities in schools, colleges, universities, dance institutes and even open schools of their own.
Choreography: The choreographer designs and composes dance sequences and co-ordinates the stage settings, music, costumes and supervises rehearsals. Choreographer must have creative or imaginative powers and an ability to interpret music and compose dance routines for solo as well as group performances. They must be able to work along with a team. Prospects in this field are expanding with more and more stage and TV shows.
Choreographers can find employment in troupes performing stage shows, TV shows and in films.
Performing: To be a performing artist one must have attractive appearance, facial expression, an ability to interpret roles and stage presence. Performers have to spare time everyday for practicing. They must also have to keep in touch with the interest of the general public. They must travel a lot and give performances to be popular. Besides professional training; dedication, talent and the right contacts can only help a performer to become well established.
Performing artists can form their own troupes or even work with other troupes. They also have the option of starting schools and devote time for teaching.