If war shapes boundaries, art shapes cultures, says Pratyusha Chhajer

Dance should be above politics and wars, she feels.

Ballet dancers and academies all over the western world have been protesting against the random sanctions put on them due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Concerts, dance recitals and exhibitions have been postponed indefinitely after the recent Russian intervention in Ukraine.

“It is unfair to sanction an academy in the West or Europe just because they have a Russian name or follow a Russian style of dancing or have Russian dancers training there. That is arbitrary but that is what is happening with many right now. We are all being judged for having any Russian connection,” says the owner of an academy in the West who does not want to be named.

Entrepreneur Pratyusha Chhajer of SS Ballet Academy in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, concurs. “The conflict is not good. No one is disputing that. However, I agree that to sanction a place, just because some of the teachers are Russian or they follow a Russian style of ballet dance, is misplaced.”

Though there are no sanctions on any Russian form of dance in India, Pratyusha is disturbed by this trend of ‘cancel culture’, especially when it comes to cancelling art forms. “Dance, just like music, is a universal language. Without having to speak, humans can express themselves through dance. Let’s not forget that if war shapes boundaries, art shapes cultures. Thus art should be above politics and wars.”

“Dance is the rhythm of moving leaves, dance is the rhythm of flowing water, dance moves to the rhythm of breeze — dance is  everywhere. Dance is within you, dance is outside you. So we should work in the direction of preserving culture, performing arts, traditions and heritage for our future generations,” she concludes.