Dancers are like film stars and they too have great fan following, it is their art and their talent that get them all the admirers. These fans sometimes even become devotees who start to worship the artist and not their art form. I feel that’s the mistake the fans make. I have always believed that a dancer is a dancer because of the art of dance that they have and not the other way round.
Sometimes, people are in awe of the artist, there are people who they secretly look up to and want to be like them or just simply love the art. This is maybe because it is the respect that the dancer commands and receives, their achievements, their contacts or simply just how smoothly they perform or beautifully they can get their work done. And it’s obvious that such people display good if not great leadership qualities, and people often wonder what makes them click! Why is it that when dancing legends like Mrinalini Sarabhai or Sitara Devi used to enter the room, people would leave their seats to receive them and even now when Sonal Mansingh or Birju Maharaj enter a class, people simply get up to touch their feet? Have you ever wondered is it their art? Is it their personality or their auras that make the people surrender in front of them?
And while most people believe that aggressiveness, being influential and being determined to be successful appear to be the necessary traits, in reality there are much more. I have believed it is none of that; it is in fact completely opposite of it. It is their Humility, the Love and Discipline for their art that makes them that way. Be it a legendary dancer or a super star all have one thing in common and that is the humility.
People and fans often overlook the humility factor. After all, it is said that respect is earned. So how does humility play a role in effective leaders? Can you imagine an artist who is unapproachable, uptight, self absorbed and judgemental? Or a dancer who sets such high standards that the group members feel almost inferior in his/her presence. Humility is an important criterion for others to be able to relate to the legend. This makes the performer more approachable and a positive figure for his/her teammates and group dancers. This helps one influence his/her teammates in a positive way without causing conflicts and frustration. Humility in a dancer brings about an ease in the teammates for them to open up and communicate with their guru. It’s simply just like in school when we liked a teacher who was positive, we automatically did better in that particular subject.
In case you are wondering what if humility is mistaken for weakness? I agree that sometimes being humble may make others believe that the artist can be taken for granted. I feel Humility in a dancer may be misconstrued as a weakness which can be balanced out by adding the right amount of assertiveness and strength. One does not have to sacrifice competence, vision, and effectiveness to get humility. Humbleness in the context of dancer is admitting that one does not have all the answers and that one may need help of the team in fulfilling team objectives.
Say ‘no’ when needed. Do not overdo the humility just for your need to be liked or seek approval from others. When you see that the situation may get out of hand, pull up your socks and be assertive, use humility, don’t abuse it. Familiarity breeds contempt, be open with your teammates but not so much that you are unable to maintain your distance with them. Avoid disclosing too much of your personal life, demand your respect, when required and don’t avoid confrontations in order to avoid conflict.
All these that I have mentioned are from my experiences as well as my interactions with the other legendary dancers and actors. I hope after reading this article all the fans will realise that a dancer is a dancer because we perform our art on the ground and we can never feel the pride and take it to our head, because then we will no longer remain dancers. We will lose our art as God gives talent only to those who learn to respect it and cherish it with humility.
(Sandip Soparrkar is a well known Latin and Ballroom dancer, a World Book of Records holder and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with National Achievement Award and National Excellence Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on [email protected])