Smriti Dakshina: A new series celebrating women who teach the arts

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Today, we are starting a new series of occasional blogposts that pays tribute-the tribute of remembering with gratitude–to a very important, under-celebrated category of professional women: trained musicians and dancers who teach children classical music and dance, imparting to them an appreciation of the arts. Their work takes a small number with talent and discipline to become arts professionals, but for the most part, creates the audiences and patrons who keep the arts alive. Without these women, most of us would never have a chance to learn a few songs or dance steps, understand a little bit of the grammar of our classical arts, and to be part of the appreciative audience that is essential to keep the arts alive.

For most children, starting classical music or dance at an early age is often a parent’s desire to given them a well-rounded education. Many of us would have rather been playing or reading than sitting in music class. For many South Indian children, the rituals of Vijayadashami (when you start classes or start a new level in your classes and pay dakshina (tribute) to your teacher) are often just rituals. It is as an adult that one realises one has been very fortunate to have some exposure and training in this rich heritage. One wishes one had been more grateful, more openly.

The objective of this series is two-fold:

1. We want to remember, by name, and with photos where we have them, the women who have been doing this very important heritage work, unsung, unlamented, for generations.

2. We want to take the opportunity to pay tribute through this blog and to say the ‘Thank you’ that we may not have said with feeling the first time around.

We invite you to write to us about your first music or dance teacher.

We are inviting posts only about female teachers because as in every other field, in the arts too, women’s work at this foundation level is invisible and overlooked. Do write to us at psw.prajnya@gmail.com to tell us you would like to contribute, or just send us your piece in the text of the email. You MUST include your name and location in the email.

If you send us a photo, we would be glad to post it, but please note that submitting a photo to this blog also means consent to its inclusion in the Prajnya Archives.

We look forward to hearing from you. Even if you always loved your classes and said thank you a hundred times each day. Write to us about your first teachers, your first classes. Celebrate these invisible, nameless heritage workers today!

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