Artistes improvise amid pandemic


Hyderabad: Since its creation in 1982 by UNESCO, the International Dance Day on April 29, has always been a festival of sorts for dancers globally. There are performances, panel discussions, celebrations and more, regarding the art that by very essence, needs an audience but since the start of the pandemic in 2020, it has been a dead end.

Haleem Khan, an eminent Kuchipudi dancer from Hyderabad, said, “Every year, as April 29 approaches, I used to get excited, used to be invited to perform, invited to watch performances and a lot more but since 2020, there’s nothing.”

According to him, performers have been affected in the worst possible way since the beginning of the pandemic and while 2021 had a hopeful start, the second wave took away all hopes again.

“I am primarily a performer but I haven’t worn makeup in the last one and a half years and it has come to the point where I’m questioning myself whether I still am a dancer and I don’t know whether I can dance again,” shared Haleem, who has been dancing for two decades now, adding, “It has become a question of survival itself as performers survive on performing.”

Patruni Sastry, a drag dancer from the city, also agrees with the fact that 2021 was hopeful in the beginning but is also of the opinion that the pandemic and shutting down of performances has actually made dancers more versatile.

“We have learnt how to create a set in our own homes and deliver online performances. It has made dancers multi-task and curate digital performances while exploring their respective art forms,” he explained.

Artistes improvise amid pandemic

Agreeing with Sastry is Sravan Telu, a Hyderabad-based belly dancer, said, “Virtual platforms have opened up many avenues and we can only be hopeful with the new normal. Otherwise artistes and performers have to look for other sources of income.”

Artistes improvise amid pandemic

But, some, like the Kuchipudi artiste Sravya Manasa, who has been involved with virtual performances and virtual classes as well, said, “We have done a lot of things virtually, weekly challenges, dance events, talks, and many more but nothing can replace the vibe of the audience, the aura of the stage, group rehearsals. We may adapt to a new normal and reach to a larger audience but it just won’t replace it.”

Artistes improvise amid pandemic
Sravya Manasa

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