The dichotomy of the language of dance is perplexing in many ways, especially when it comes to the distinction between a male and female dancer. The debate about why young male dancers, especially male soloists are on the decline is always a matter of great thought and concern. It is quite ironic to understand the decline, as we worship Shiva, the God of dance, who is male. Several mythological and historical instances cite examples of male soloists. Over the years, this country has witnessed the rise and decline of male soloists, and then in the last two decades, there has been a revival of tradition of sorts again.
Meet the young versatile Male soloist, Bharathanatyam dancer,’Natya Mayura’ awardee Parshwanath Upadhye, who has carved out a niche for himself today, as one of the most sought out male Bharathanatyam dancers in the country.
Parshwanath has won 3 national level dance competitions and is one of the youngest to become ‘A’ grade artist of Bangalore Doordarshan Kendra. He is an empaneled artist of ICCR.
Not only dance but, Parshwanath is a Black belt in Karate and state level swimmer and a trained carnatic singer,and holds a masters degree in Kannada Literature.
He has completed his Arangetram, Vidwath and Alankaar Exams conducted by Gandharva Mahavidyalay, Mumbai under the able guidance and tutelage of Guru Shri Ravindra Sharma. Parshwanath is also a student of Smt Rekha Hegde.
From 2002 onwards Parshwanath has continued his learning and exploring the art form under the tutelage of Internationally acclaimed dancer duo, Shri Kiran Subramanyam and Smt.Sandhya Kiran, at Rasika Academy of Performing Arts, Bangalore.
He is a M.A. in Kannada literature and did his BA in Social Sciences from KLE’s Lingraj College, Belgaum. He did his schooling from -No.6 Government school, Sharman School and B.K.Model school (all in Kannada Medium).
Parshwanath has toured and performed bharatanatyam extensively in and around India. Parshwanath’s solo recital as a part of Narthaka Festival-2010, held at Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan Chennai on 24th of October 2010, was appreciated with rave reviews and admirations from the legendary gurus and art critics.
Excerpts from the Interview with Team AAB:
When did you start your dance career and how did you think of this field?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> My mother initiated me to the art form at the age of 4, I dont remember when exactly I became serious about the same, but I have taken it up as my career only from past 4 years.
Who inspired you to get into dancing? And how was the support from the family?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> My mother’s and my grand mother’s(a Carnitic Vocalist) support was and is the best any male classical dancer can ask for.
A black belt in Karate and Bharatnatyam did both help each other?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> I guess both complimented each other very well. Karate helped me improve my stamina and maintain masculinity which I personally feel is the most important asset of a male classical dancer, Bharathanatyam in particular. In karate, ‘katas’ are known for their fluidity in the movements. My karate sir always felt that I got the perfect fluidity from my dance,which helped me win state level competitions.
What difference do you feel in today’s dancers as compared to the old school ?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> Gurukulam style-gurukul system had its own positive and negative aspects. Though the dancers enjoyed learning more in a short time and always had the privilege of easier access to the guru, its a known fact that , the creativity was hardly seen as the dancers had to follow what ever their gurus used to teach them. Doing anything different used to be considered as breaking of rules or non traditional. Today’s dancers on the other hand are more open to experiments within the boundaries of the classical dance. Nevertheless, today’s irony is, anyone who has learned dance for 1 or 2 years becomes a teacher!
Do you think the classical styles should not be tampered with?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> Experimenting is must for any Art to grow.One has thousands of ways to make classical dance form look appealing and more entertaining for a common audience, being well within the frame work of Natya Shatra. But I do not support so called contemporary dances/dancers tampering the classical art form.
Do you have any health tips for up and coming dancers?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> Many! If you are male dancer,join a gym today. You dont need to lift heavy weights, but simple pull ups and push ups will make huge difference in the way you dance and look.2.warm up and cool dance exercises are must before and after a dance session.
Do you have any unfulfilled ambition-many,one of them?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> establishing huge dance kala kshetra in Belgaum.
Do you attribute your success as a Bharatnatyam dancer to your lineage or to your hard work?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> hard work and family support.
How do you explain the diminishing popularity of Bharatnatyam, compared to others dances? What about its future?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> I really doubt if its the other way round:) its the most popular art form today. Foreign students are rushing to India to learn it. How many Indians do you see ,going abroad to learn western dance forms! other dances might be crowd pullers but the upliftment of the soul is possible only through classical forms. And success ratio of classical dancers is clearly higher compared to other dances if you are referring to bollywoodish dances. How many bollywood dancers have you interviewed so far!? 🙂 on a serious note. Bharathanatyam has a great future. There are more than 50 male professional ,successful,performing classical male dancers today and about the popularity part trust me, its more entertaining compared to any art form* *conditions apply 🙂
Modern westernized dances are enjoying an unprecedented popularity. They have a mass hysteria. Do you expect youngsters to carry this classical tradition with the kind of dedication you had put in?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> Westernized dancers have the support of mass, appealing music and language. The main problem with traditional classical art form is, the language. Most of them are either in Tamil or Sanskrit. Few in Kannada and rarely in Marathi. But one can hardly understand them , as the Tamil speaking singers make Marathi sound like Malayalam. Also the slow nature of the music is obviously boring for a common audience who has no idea about classical dance or music. Irony is making the music more appealing and sound less Carnatic, is considered as tampering with the tradition. But what you call as tradition TODAY, was an experiment several years ago. So I strongly recommend the dancers to experiment with the music so that the dance looks more appealing .If you are smart enough to catch the pulse of the audience then you can surely take this as your profession.
Any memorable performance
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> My first one-i was 5 years old, I ran out of the stage as my friends sitting In front of started laughing:)
Your thoughts on the upcoming talent in Belgaum how can one groom oneself being here.
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> Belgaum is the best place to be, not just for an artist but also for an art lover. Hundreds of artists from Belgaum, of various fields have tasted success today. Trust yourself and your Art form. And more importantly choose your Guru carefully. and once you do so, blindly follow them.
What is the best thing about Belgaum you like?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> Well, where can I start from. I have been to places,but trust me, Belgaum has an unmatched charm. Most of the Bangalorians dont know that, Belgaum is cooler than Bangalore(temperature). who ever has comes with me to Belgaum, has always fallen in love with it. Fort Area has always been my favorite part of the city right from my childhood.
What are your thoughts on this website?
Parshwanath Upadhye ——-> The number of fan followers says it all. All I can say is, All the best and keep up the great work.