Friday Sep 30, 2022
Friday Sep 30, 2022

Classical dance in need of more priority

Classical dance looks beautiful and elegant, however it requires a lot of patience and resilience.

2021 Aug 27, 7:14, Kathmandu
Classical dance performer Photo: Sumi Shahi

Nepali classical and folk dances are a strong reflection of its rich culture and tradition.
However, vice-president of Dance Director Association Nepal (D-DAN) Pradip Shrestha confirms that the interest in classical and cultural dances is decreasing with each passing generation. “Youngsters prefer to learn western forms of dances because that is trending in all social media nowadays”, he says.    
D-DAN is an association with over 600 members from all over the country. They had been organizing programs and workshops in different parts of Nepal with the intention of exchanging culture from different parts of the country through dance before the pandemic.
 Sumi Shahi, a certified dance instructor, works with young people on a daily basis. According to her, some youngsters are keen to learn Nepali classical and cultural dance because it is visually appealing. But not many have the patience to continue it.
Explaining why they are more into western trends, Shahi says, “Classical dancing looks beautiful and elegant. However, it requires a lot of patience and resilience, which the youths of today seem to lack. And comparatively, western dances are easier to learn, and also yield progress and improvement faster than classical dances.”
 But the youngsters are yet to know that other than having a strong cultural representation, classical dance has lots of benefits too.
“Classical dancing helps with your posture, keeps you disciplined, and all in all helps with other dance forms as well”, says Shahi.
Shrestha explains, “Classical dance teaches you to be in control of your body. You learn about timing and expressions.”
Not only is the dance form losing its touch on today's society, but with modernization, authentic classical and folk dances seem to be slowly disappearing from Nepali film and music industry as well.
“We spend so much time trying to copy western styles and trends when what we already have are unique and beautiful on its own”, says Shrestha. “Our culture should reflect in our media and movies”, he adds.

Photo: Sumi Shahi
Photo: Sumi Shahi

Nepali classical dance, Charya is very vast and includes various types of dances.
There are two types of Charya dance, explains Shahi. “One is performed in front of Gods and Goddesses such as Kumari, Bajrayogini, Pancha Buddha, Aryatara, etc. The other is performed on stage as a performance,'' she adds.
 She further criticises people who are more aligned towards Kathak and Bharatnatyam because of Indian reality shows, rather than authentic Nepalese classical dances such as Charya and folk dances including Maruni, Newari, Tamang Selo, Jhyaure,and so on.
While people believe there is no future after learning classical dance, Shrestha says, “It is not too difficult to make a career out of classical dancing in today’s digital society.”
 “Social media platforms such as Tiktok and Youtube have made it easier for dancers to make a decent earning at home”, Shahi adds.
Both Shahi and Shrestha struggled at work during the lockdown. Though being in front of a camera constantly helped Shahi gain confidence, teaching dance via online classes is a struggle. “Not being able to take physical classes for a physical exercise such as dance was extremely difficult and having to adapt to internet problems acted as a hindrance to both teachers and students”, she says. Shrestha also could not conduct programs and workshops according to plans.
 Shahi believes that it is important to be more aware and curious about Nepali culture. “Learning various western dances is important, but you must learn to prioritize your own culture above the rest.” she says.

Photo: Sumi Shahi
Photo: Sumi Shahi


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