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Dance Like a Man: Director's Notes

In his collection of essays titled A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut says, “If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts.” This conflict between parents’ views on what is best for their children and a life in the arts is not unique to the times we live in, the country we live in, or the country/ies we are from. It seems to be universal. It’s because “the arts are not a way to make a living”, Kurt tells us, just as Amritlal Parekh asks Jairaj in Dance Like a Man : “Why do you dance? It doesn’t give you any income.”

Yet, art perseveres all over the world. People continue to battle all sorts of hardships – financial, social, political, and more – and continue to participate in art. Yes, those hardships force them to make compromises. The obstacles extract their price. The artists of the world still continue to push forward, because they know their success will make it all worthwhile. I believe with all my heart that people don’t go into the arts to hurt their parents. I also believe just as surely that parents who try to stop their children are not acting out of any selfish interest.

Which parent doesn’t want the best for their child? We want our children to have every happiness we know of. The best toys we can get them. The best education, career and future we can help secure for them. We live and work for them. We dream for them. We dream through them, so someday we may live through them. So why shouldn’t they rise as far as our imagination can keep up? Why wouldn’t Ratna do everything she can for Lata? And why shouldn’t Amritlal help Jairaj in every way he knows to help? Is Ratna’s insistence that her daughter be a successful dancer really so different from Amritlal’s dreams that his son may grow up and do something ‘useful’ with his life?

“The arts are not a way to make a living”, Kurt Vonnegut continues. “They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.” I’ll add my two cents to Kurt’s – go see a play, a ballet, an opera. We are certainly glad you came to ours. Encourage your children to do whatever they want to do – artistic or not. Kurt Vonnegut closes his essay - “Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Welcome to our little play. We hope you will enjoy the show.

Agastya Kohli

Artistic Director, Drama



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