For any dance form to thrive, it needs to be popular among youngsters. That’s what honorary director of the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s chhau centre in Chandankyari, Bokaro, Padma Shri Gopal Prasad Dubey believes.
Dubey, who is originally from Seraikela and is a name to reckon with in Seraikela Chhau, sent a proposal last month to the secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, saying he wants to host “intense 90-day residential workshops” for school and college students or practising chhau artistes to learn the dance form at the Chandankyari centre Bokaro.
“We will take only 15 students per chhau stream, Seraikela, Manbhum and Mayurbhanj. Our emphasis will be on correct, authentic techniques, rigour and love for the dance forms,” Dubey told this paper from Bangalore, where he currently resides, adding he wanted youngsters to love the spectacular dance form.
Padma Shri Gopal Prasad Dubey. Telegraph picture
Each such workshop would cost Rs 4 lakh to host, he said, adding he was confident he would receive the funding once Lok Sabha election was over in summer.
To get millennials interested in this age-old dance form, Dubey said established gurus would teach at the workshop. “We won’t advocate short-cuts,” he said, saying this was his mantra to make tradition trendy. “I am sure the quality of workshops will create a buzz among youngsters to join the classes.”
Right now, he said he was getting in touch with other chhau artistes in order to form a proper syllabus of the dance form, which is so far non-existent.
“Chhau and its dancers have missed a lot in the absence of an approved syllabus by a recognised body,” said the Padma Shri artiste. “Chhau dancers don't get degrees, diplomas or certificates. So it becomes difficult for them to prove their artistic skill in structured places (institutions, cultural centres, among others) which directly affects the employment chances of artistes. I am trying to meet various chhau gurus to collectively decide on a syllabus and get it approved by an authoritative body,” Dubey said.
At present, the Chandankyari centre has six chhau gurus but more would be roped in for workshops. The centre also supports research activities in chhau.