I recently took a weekend off for wedding anniversary travel, and caught a lot of flack from some students.
S1 – “Why don’t we have class next week?”
T – “Well, I’m traveling, so we’ll regroup for class in 2 weeks.”
S2 – “But I don’t understand why you need to travel, there isn’t a holiday or anything.”
T – “Well, my husband and I have our 28th wedding anniversary, so we are going on a short trip.”
S3 – “But that’s not a holiday. That’s optional.”
S2 – “Yeah, I mean if it was Spring Break or something, we would all go on a holiday. But you are just doing something random.”
S4 – “Seems random to me too. It’s not like you need time off from dance or something.”
T – #mindvoice “Ummmm…..”
#natyamnaatak #dancehumor #nobreaksforteachers
https://kalavandanam.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/natyamnaatak_20231127-845-×-321-px.jpg321845Suchitra Sairam/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/logo.pngSuchitra Sairam2023-11-27 08:24:022023-11-27 08:24:02#natyamnaatak - "Why Don’t We Have Class?"
Kala Vandanam’s annual Natya Sadhana celebration for Vijayadasami day just passed… our 21st time celebrating together!
As much as this teacher wants the art to be just right, this teacher also understands there are much simpler goals… getting every student on and off stage with:
1/ No tears 😪
2/ No injuries 🤕
3/ Lots of smiles 😃
Every student also has their own goals – one recurring theme this year was managing stage anxiety, including “I have Stage Anxiety to the Max!”
Afterward, many were delighted to report their stage anxiety “wasn’t that bad” this year. Maybe even gone for good!
One student even came and thanked me for my “smart planning.”
“I think you made a really good decision about what to teach our class. We went so early and the show went so fast, none of us even had time to be stressed out before performed. Did you do that on purpose?”
Internationally acclaimed Indian music maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain is the pre-eminent tabla virtuoso of our times. He’s also credited with being one of the architects of contemporary world music.
On one hand, he was destined for musical greatness as the son and prime disciple of 20th century tabla legend Ustad Alla Rakha.
On the other hand, his greatness comes from being an exemplary student.
Zakir-ji says, “A student must inspire a teacher to teach.” This, coming from a man who trained under his father’s watchful eye from the time he was 7 years old. Yet, he would also practice and practice, “waiting to see if I would get any attention from The Man.”
The attention came when he took lessons given to him, and he embellished or enhanced it further.
What did this inspire from his father and guru? The next idea or phrase, adding another twist, angle, point of view and level of difficulty. This led to the next level and layer of growth and exploration by the student.
And this growth cycle would continue endlessly.
🔁 A lesson leads to practice.
⏩ Practice leads to understanding.
🧭 Understanding leads to exploration.
🔆 Exploration leads to inspiration.
💡 Inspiration leads to innovation.
💫 Innovation leads to growth.
According to many great masters of Indian arts, the flow of knowledge is like a fast-flowing, engorged river. That river of knowledge passes near each of us through our teachers, parents, bosses, mentors, peers – anyone from whom we learn.
It’s in our control to take a cupful, a bucketful or a truckload from that river. Or we can keep walking alongside the river.
It’s easy to complain about bad teachers, bosses or mentors. But are we, first and foremost, good students, employees or mentees?
https://kalavandanam.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/KV_studentsjobtolearn_20231004_845x321.png321845Suchitra Sairam/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/logo.pngSuchitra Sairam2023-10-04 18:00:192023-10-08 18:04:40It’s Not a Teacher’s Job to Teach. It is a Student’s Job to Learn.
Often, parents apologize to me on behalf of their children.
Most often, it’s about:
Lack of practice
Forgetting to bring something
Some of it is definitely comical.
What’s more hilarious (and sometimes alarming!) are my students apologizing to me about their parents.
“I’m really sorry I am late to class. I’m ready to leave on time, but my dad is ALWAYS running late. And he doesn’t believe in being on time.”
“I’m sorry I can’t come to class next week, my dad can’t bring me. He said has to travel for work and make money so he can pay for dance class.”
A student who was “out sick” the previous week apologized when I asked how she was feeling now. “I’m sorry my mom lied and told you I was sick. She wanted me to come to a party for a family friend.” (PSA to all parents of dance students… please don’t make your kids keep track of your lies.)
From a student who wanted to come watch me perform in a show but didn’t come, “I’m sorry I can’t come to your show. My parents said I didn’t need to come if I wasn’t dancing.” (PSA to all parents of dance students… this is the WRONG answer.)
What’s one the best roses in life? When something you dream about and aspire to becomes reality.
I love the arts, and the positive impact it has on people. Dance and music have enriched my life more than I can describe.
However, how people in the arts function (or not) together often leaves a sour taste.
There are some absolute gems, who are open, generous and humble. There are others who aren’t able to “play nice” out of fear or arrogance.
How does this look through the Rose-Bud-Thorn framework?
Rose: Celebrate the Good
Bud: Nurture Growth & Potential
Thorn: Confront Challenges Head-on
One of my biggest roses during and after Kala Vandanam’s recent ensemble show, “Sampradaya” was the true embodiment of Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is a collection of values that teaches us each individual is part of a more significant collective.
Fundamental philosophy – “I am because of others.”
Fundamental value – “I’m valuable if I contribute to the well-being of others.”
Guiding principle – “I value others simply for who they are, and THEN for what they achieve.”
It’s not “we” INSTEAD of “me.” It means “we” AND “me.”
Ubuntu reminds us we have a place for ourselves and a responsibility and duty to others.
What did I see in this wonderful ensemble of 11 dancers and 5 musicians? Ubuntu in action.
I’ve personally trained all of the dancers over many years. I’ve aimed over 21 years to create a culture of collaboration and non-competitive aspiration. It doesn’t guarantee it will happen.
The 4 guest musicians are all accomplished, 2 of them highly acclaimed and having toured internationally for decades. What was beautiful? Not one ounce of arrogance toward more junior artists.
It was all about “we.” It was all about creating our best art AND having a great time doing it.
It was Ubuntu in action.
#SuchiWrites #reflection #rosebudthorn #ubuntu
https://kalavandanam.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/KV_rose-bud-thorn_ubuntu_20230709_845x321.jpg321845Suchitra Sairam/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/logo.pngSuchitra Sairam2023-07-10 12:00:322023-07-11 08:25:53When Collaborating with a Team, There’s a 1-Word “Rose” That Smells the Sweetest of All
“After this show, I think you’re an overnight success.”
I heard this from a very well meaning, generous audience member after Kala Vandanam’s recent ensemble show, “Sampradaya.” He was effusive about the show, and all the things he enjoyed.
Then someone (not me) burst his bubble with the truth.
This show was the result of 21 years of Kala Vandanam.
1 performance was presented, after
3 weeks of intensive ensemble preparation, after
9-15 years of training by each of the ensemble dancers, under
the same teacher whose studio celebrated 21 years of teaching, mentoring and creating art.
All of this aside from
said teacher who continues training and practice to never stop growing, and
accompanying musicians who are experts in their craft after decades of immersion.
It was deeply satisfying artistically, with a cohesive ensemble, and a shared experience with the audience.
When thinking about the Rose-Bud-Thorn framework, there isn’t enough space for the Roses and Buds from my perspective.
Rose: Celebrate the Good
Bud: Nurture Growth & Potential
Thorn: Confront Challenges Head-on
(at least a million) ROSES
It was about the art and the work. Everyone wanted to be good individually, but everyone wanted to be good as an ensemble much more. Egos left at the door. Joys and challenges experienced together.
(at least a million) BUDS
The least experienced dancer didn’t feel any less than the most experienced one. Each person had an opportunity to shine in their way. Looking into the future, this gave me much hope on how humans CAN be together if we make the effort.
(a few, but big) THORNS
After an immensely satisfying and high quality (based on audience feedback) show, it was hard to see how few people took the opportunity to support the arts financially. In most places, such as business, athletics, or entertainment, quality and connection are rewarded. Why doesn’t this happen in the arts?
Rose-Bud-Thorn is about celebration, nurturing potential and confronting challenge.
Let’s face this challenge – together.
https://kalavandanam.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/KV_rose-bud-thorn_suchi_20230707_845x321.png321845Suchitra Sairam/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/logo.pngSuchitra Sairam2023-07-07 22:00:332023-07-11 08:23:271 Performance - 3 Intensive Weeks of Preparation - 21 Years in the Making - Infinity Roses & Buds, and a Few Thorns